November 7 2016 | New Orleans
 Photo credit:    John Barrois

If you think the current election is stressful, go see 1776, The Musical, playing now through November 20th at the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts (15 minutes from New Orleans in Kenner). You’ll go away from this performance with the realization that politics in this country have and always will be a challenge!  Apparently, the willingness to listen to all sides of an argument is exactly what makes a democracy the greatest form of government on Earth. Surprisingly enough, it makes for a great night of entertainment as well.

 

In this 1969 Tony Award-winning musical, founding fathers John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson take on their own “basket of deplorables,” as they work to convince the 1776 congress to declare independence from British tyranny. To quote a song from John Adams:

 

A cataclysmic earthquake, I'd accept with some despair.

But no, You sent us Congress! Good God, Sir, was that fair?

 

Adams goes on to sing,

 

You see, we piddle, twiddle and resolve

Not one damned thing do we solve.”

 

Sound familiar? It’s like C-SPAN, The MusicalIf the clever words and the sheer talent of the actors don’t blow you away, the discovery that America is right back where we started from ought to.

 

This amusing, insightful and sometimes long-winded play (hey, we’re talking about congress here) features music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards with book by Peter StoneThe show starts at 8:00 p.m. so get your ticket, order the theater’s current signature drink, the “John Hancock,” and find your seat. Here’s your chance to go back in time to 1776 when New Orleans was yet to be a twinkle in Thomas Jefferson’s eye.

 

Directed by Big Easy award-winning director A.J. Allegra, 1776 features a talented cast that includes Gary Rucker as John Adams, David W. Hoover as Benjamin Franklin and Matt Reed as Thomas Jefferson. The only two women in the play are Nori Pritchard and Jessica Gordon as Abigail Adams and Martha Jefferson, respectively. Their performances were refreshing – as beautiful as their costumes. Joey Dowdall thoroughly charmed the audience as old Stephen Hopkins from Rhode Island, a man willing to fight for his rum as much as America’s Independence. Several other cast members had stand-out solos as well, including Ken Good, Jr. as Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and Aaron Richert as the courier. And the choreography by Lindsey Romig deserves a special mention. The dancing was charming and uplifting.

 

Saturday night’s performance was a nearly sold-out show. The theater itself feels new and clean and has fun little touches. For instance, if you need to, you can freshen up in the “Guys” or “Dolls” room; bring a little cash for the bar (they won’t take your John Hancock); and don’t spend any time worrying about parking. There’s plenty of free spots nearby. If you come a little early, you can actually find a place right on the street.

 

If the timing of 1776 doesn’t fit into your schedule, the theater has an impressive list of productions ahead, including Billy Elliot, the Musical(January 13-29), The 39 Steps (March 10-26), Bye Bye Birdie (May 5-21) and The Little Mermaid (July 13-23). And during the holidays (December 2-18), Steel Poinsettias, a “magnolia-scented” Christmas show will be opening here from Ricky Graham and the other creators of Ditzyland. And February 3-12, there will be just six performances of Graham’s …And the Ball and All. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s “phat phat and all yat.” For ticket information, visit rivertowntheaters.com