We took in the musical ‘1776, A Musical Revolution’ at the Alhambra theater in Jacksonville, FL last week, and if you didn’t, you missed a great show.
It was no small feat for the creators, Sherman Edwards (music and lyrics) and Peter Stone (the book), to come up with a presentation that made history funny, witty, and informative. There were some amazing actors on board too. Throughout the night, the audience laughed and applauded, with many recognizing not much has changed in terms of partisan rancor.
Principal performers Kevin Anderson (John Adams), Jake Delaney (Thomas Jefferson), and Mark Poppleton (Benjamin Franklin), resembled images of the founders so accurately it was at times as though you were watching the real founders. The back and forth between these and other characters gave a glimpse into a divided, fractious, and rowdy Continental Congress dealing with the challenge of colonies torn between allegiance to England and allegiance to freedom. The musical depicts events and politics ahead of the colonies’ secession from England, and the rhetoric was definitely heated in that era.
It’s hard to make history entertaining, but the producers, cast, and others involved in this show accomplished that.
The musical numbers were entertaining—a standout in that respect was Nicole Coffaro who played Martha Jefferson. Listening to all the cast who did musical numbers, you realize the people on the stage aren’t just entertainers—they’re artists who can do more than memorize lines.
I’d never been to the Alhambra, and this trip was a gift to us from our newly married couple. I plan to go again, and I am glad to have finally made it out to a place I’d long intended to visit. The meal was good, and the staff was to a person gracious.
The show ran for a month and a day, so there was obviously interest in the topic.
I really enjoyed Jake Delaney as Thomas Jefferson. He seemed so like the way I imagine Jefferson, and he didn’t just play the role, he became the character. There wasn’t a bad actor in the entire production, in my opinion. Kevin Anderson made for an exceptional John Adams, and Mark Poppleton as Benjamin Franklin made us laugh as Franklin’s penchant for having a good time manifested.
It helped a little to know history so you could appreciate the snark, but even if you don’t know history, you’ll get the ideas put forth in the narrative.
The Alhambra’s Christmas show Elf, the Musical, is already sold out. As of last week, tickets were still available for the short run show Dec. 28-29, and December 31, a tribute to The Barry White and Donna Summer Experience. The New Year’s Eve show includes dancing.
The first show of 2019 will be Godspell.
It’s fun to get dressed up and have a good meal and enjoy live musical theater. The Alhambra is a great place to enjoy yourself whether you’re a local or someone passing through our fair city.
Featured Photo: Artist’s rendering of the leaders of the Continental Congress: John Adams, Gouverneur Morris, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. Augustus Tholey, artist, 1894. US Library of Congress.
(Kay B. Day/11/19/18)