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Pop Filter Hot Pick: 1776 marks Pittsburgh Public Theater's biggest production to date

RIght out of the gate--during his inaugural address--Barack Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence and referenced "the patriots of 1776" as he ushered in his second term as 44th President of the United States.

As a new term and a New Year begin, there's no better time to celebrate the country's founding fathers and the establishment of those thirteen colonies, than at Pittsburgh Public Theater's latest and largest production, 1776.

Winner of the prestigious Tony Award for Best Musical, 1776 was written by Peter Stone (1930 – 2003) and features music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards (1919 – 1981). The Public's biggest production to date, 1776 runs January 24th through February 24th at the O’Reilly Theater, located Downtown in the heart of the Cultural District.

Ready to get star-spangled?

Based on the momentous events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence, 1776 focuses on the efforts of John Adams, as he works to convince his esteemed colleagues to vote for American independence and sign the history-altering document.

But this is the American Revolution like you’ve never seen--or heard--it before. Sparks are sure to fly within the O'Reilly Theater, as the more thrilling--and sometimes tumultuous--story of how 13 colonies became the United States of America unfolds on the stage.

What would John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin sound like if they broke out in song? Or had to deliver an effective speech while performing dance steps? What were some of the more comedic moments that occurred behind-the-scenes during America's struggle for freedom?

The founding of our nation takes on epic star-spangled proportions, as the architects of the American independence come to life via riveting songs and dances, comic encounters and heated political debates. The stakes have never been higher as Adams, Jefferson and Franklin work to get everyone on the same page--literally--for the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Directed by Ted Pappas, the family-friendly musical extravaganza features an ensemble cast of 26 actors along with an orchestra who together translate the that legendary date in America's history in all of its glory.

George Merrick, who starred in South Pacific on Broadway, plays the role of John Adams, alongside Keith Hines (Thomas Jefferson) and Steve Vinovich (Benjamin Franklin). Among the trio's allies are Abigail Adams (née Smith), played by Trista Moldovan, who starred in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. History's infamous foes, who attempt to foil the founding fathers, are figures such as the South Carolina-born politician Edward Rutledge, played by Hayden Tee, known for his role as King Arthur in The Public's production of Camelot.

The 1776 company features: John Allen Biles, Paul Binotto, Jeffrey Carpenter, Jeremy Czarniak, Jarrod DiGiorgi, Joseph Domencic, Darren Eliker, James FitzGerald, Justin Fortunato, Robert Frankenberry, Tim Hartman, Daniel Krell, Jason McCune, Eric Meyers, Larry John Meyers, Scott P. Sambuco, John Scherer, Libby Servais, Gordon Stanley, Louis S. Valenzi, and Stephen Wilde.

Musical director is F. Wade Russo and the orchestrations were done by Dan DeLange. The show's design team includes James Noone (scenic), Martha Bromelmeier (costumes), Kirk Bookman (lighting), and Zach Moore (sound).

The sounds of 1776

Helping to bring the story to life is a six-piece orchestra conducted by musical director F. Wade Russo that features David L. Anderson (trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn; James Germann (flute, piccolo, clarinet); R.J. Heid (percussion); Timothy J. Tucker (keyboard); and Rachel T. White (violin).

Featured numbers in the production--which include a range of genres from comedic choruses to moving ballads--include: Sit Down, John; The Lees of Old Virginia; Your, Yours, Yours; Cool, Cool, Considerate Men; Momma, Look Sharp; and Molasses to Rum.

Themes explored in the show's musical pieces include everything from political beliefs and slavery, to romance and war.

Made in America

1776 is a centerpiece to the Public's thematic Made in America series. Running through June 2013, the series features plays penned by American writers and composers and set in cities across the US. Including a six-play subscription series along with special events, featured works explore the complex nature of the American Dream and address themes and issues such as money and class, race and real estate, and equality and individual responsibility.

Premiering on Broadway in 1969, 1776 went on to run for more than 1,200 performances. The production was nominated for five Tony Awards, winning three, including the Tony Award for Best Musical. Adapted for film in the 1972 movie directed by Peter H. Hunt, 1776 was revived on Broadway in 1997.

Purchase tickets now.

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Photos courtesy Pittsburgh Public Theater.
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