Another Founding Fathers Musical, '1776,' is Heading to Broadway

'1776' (1972)

The founding fathers sing their way through the signing of the Declaration of Independence in this Peter H. Hunt film. Adapted from the Broadway musical, the film chronicles America’s last dependent days as a melody of political arguments and pleas. Notable songs include “Sit Down, John,” a call for John Adams to stop preaching, “But, Mr. Adams,” the plea for Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration and “Molasses to Rum,” a Southern rep’s ode to slavery.

The Tony Award-winning show by Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards, which Lin-Manuel Miranda credits as an inspiration for 'Hamilton,' will be directed by Diane Paulus.

Haven't yet gotten your fill of American history retold as musical theater with Hamilton? Roundabout Theatre Company is partnering with American Repertory Theater at Harvard University to return the beloved original Founding Fathers musical, 1776, to Broadway.

Written by Peter Stone with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards, the 1969 premiere production won three Tony Awards, including best musical and best director, running for almost three years. Lin-Manuel Miranda has frequently cited the show among his inspirations for Hamilton.

The musical retelling of the American Revolution's political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence from the tyranny of British rule was faithfully adapted as a Columbia Pictures film in 1972. Directed by Peter H. Hunt, it starred William Daniels as John Adams, Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin and Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson, reprising their roles from the original stage production.

With humor, drama, nuanced characterizations and even a touch of suspense, 1776 asks still-relevant questions about the costs and compromises of freedom and to whom it ultimately belongs. Stone's book for the show is considered among the finest in musical theater.

Diane Paulus, a Tony winner for Pippin, currently represented on Broadway with Waitress, will direct the revival, which is scheduled to begin performances at New York's American Airlines Theatre in spring 2021. The production will premiere at ART, where Paulus is artistic director, running May 22-June 28, 2020, and will play a handful of pre-Broadway engagements, including the Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in July 2020. 

Roundabout produced a Tony-nominated 1997 revival of the show, which the company's artistic director Todd Haimes calls "an important part of Roundabout's musical history on Broadway."

The City Center Encores! program produced a staged concert version of 1776 in 2016, starring Santino Fontana as John Adams, John Larroquette as Benjamin Franklin and John Behlmann as Thomas Jefferson. Reviewing the production in The Hollywood Reporter, Frank Scheck wrote, "This precursor to Hamilton holds up superbly."

Additional dates, cities, creative team and cast for the forthcoming revival are to be announced.