“1776” revival’s diverse cast reimagines story of America’s Founding Fathers

NEW YORK –Last on Broadway 25 years ago, a revival of the musical “1776” reimagines the roles of the Founding Fathers. 

CBS2’s Dave Carlin spoke with the creative team about staging America’s birth in a difference way. 

The cast revives a Broadway classic with a refreshing twist, bringing the story of the Founding Fathers hammering out the Declaration of Independence to life. 

“You will see things that are familiar, but you will also see these things made anew,” said co-director Jeffrey L. Page, referring to the diverse casting, which is very different from the original. 

The movie version in 1972 came three years after the Broadway show won the Tony Award for Best Musical. 

In this retelling of a musical story of our founding fathers, what was revolutionary back then becomes revolutionary again in the here and now. 

Page’s directing partner for this revival is Diane Paulus. 

“This brilliant cast that provides a multiple representation of race, ethnicity, gender and folks that identify as trans, non-binary female,” said Paulus. 

Elizabeth A. Davis, who portrays Thomas Jefferson, plays the violin onstage. 

“I love the moments when I get to play onstage,” said Davis. 

“The reason why I did this production was to wrestle with the predicament of our American history, and there’s a moment in the very end of the show,” Paulus said, “Thomas Jefferson agrees to scratch out the paragraph he wrote calling slavery an ‘execrable commerce.'” 

Another stirring moment in “1776” is when a character known only as “The Courier,” played by Salome B. Smith, sings about the ravages of war. 

“The Courier comes in to put things in more of a perspective,” said Smith. 

“It’s a super powerful moment,” said Paulus. 

“1776” opens at the American Airlines Theater on Oct. 6. 

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