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17 April 2009 @ 01:38 am
Amazing food and an amazing 1776!  
Today I took the NJ Transit into Millburn to see Kevin in "1776" at the Papermill Playhouse. The train ride in was initially a new experience for me, but turned really lovely when the transit worker and a guy from Hawaii began striking up a conversation. They were both SO sweet and nice... A guy behind me overheard that I was from out of town and he made sure that I got off at the right stop. I have met nothing but VERY nice people here on this trip, it's been incredible!

Robin and I ate at this INCREDIBLE restaurant in Millburn before the show! Basilico and I had THE BEST Panini ever there - the bread was crispy and the roasted veggies inside were SO tasty! And their dessert... Oh my word, I had this chocolate pudding and graham cracker dessert that sounds SO simple, but was so delicious - just amazing!! I wish I could go back there, the food was THAT good! :)

The show itself... 1776 is my favorite musical of all time. I've seen SO many versions of it over the years and I have SUCH a love for it that I adore seeing different variations of the show. Here are my reactions of the last two times I'd seen the show - in Sacramento in 2007 and in Hollywood in 2008...

THE SHOW ITSELF...

Loved the sets! The Papermill had the Continental Congress Set hidden by walls in certain scenes that turn into Jefferson's apartment. The only problem was that most of the chairs on the outer edges had to be taken in when the scene changed and that was a little distracting at times to see the characters moving the chairs. But the set was gorgeous - the calendar was individually lit, and the voting tally board actually had "abstention" as the middle choice - which was the first time I'd seen that - there's usually just a YEA or a NAY.

THE INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES...

Kevin as Thomas Jefferson was one of the best Thomas Jefferson's I've seen. Unlike Matthew Ashford in Sacramento, Kevin wasn't as bold in his interpretation of Jefferson and I appreciated that. Reminded me (in the best possible way) of Ian Thomas Griffin's Jefferson from Reprise - with that silent strength. And Kevin's declaration writing scene was funny as hell! VERY different intonation his voice when he says, "GOD! Damn the man..." but I like it. I do have to say, I do miss his Rutledge, though...

Aaron Ramey was a great Richard Henry Lee - I loved that he had such a problem with direction and had to be pointed the right way many different times by Adams. :D He may rival John Scherer as my favorite Lee ever... mostly because most performances that I see, the Lee is funny, but it's so easy to turn that role into a caricature - which I think some actors do because it's easier to be totally off the wall with this characterization... but both John and Aaron give the role the dignity it deserves.

Wow... Griffin Matthews as the Courier was interesting! The fact that he was African American brought a different light to the whole role... I found it to be fascinating, though! VERY similar to when "Miss Saigon" cast an Asian Ellen in their production. VERY different spin on the whole dynamic between Adams and the Courier in the 2nd act, after "Molasses to Rum" - which I liked. My favorite Courier is still Chad Brannon in the Reprise production, though - Chad had a pained look his face when he sang that broke my heart each time I saw it.

My favorite performance of the entire show (aside from Kevin, of course) was possibly Robert Cuccioli as John Dickinson - he was AMAZING! To me, the strength of any 1776, really lies in the three main characters (and Dickinson) and I really feel that Mr. Cuccioli helped to really carry this show. His Dickinson was amazingly eloquent and charming, even in his arguments. He gave Dickinson a likability that I had a hard time seeing in other productions. My favorite Dickinson EVER!

And finally, my favorite unsung character - Thomson... Kevin Pariseau was a good Thomson and read the last dispatch with the emotion that it deserved.

Couple of other things
  • I have never cried so much in a production of 1776... I began crying at the end when the gun powder arrives and I didn't stop until the curtain call.
  • The staging of John & Abigail was interesting - they started singing on opposite ends of the stage, looking out into the audience, but ended facing each other, but NEVER touching. I liked the variation and the inability to touch made the moment more poignant.
  • My eternal obsession with Bartlett stopping Rutledge with the "For the love of God Mr. Rutledge, please!" Some actors have done it angrily, and some have done it as if they're ashamed. I'm in the camp that believes the line should be said as a, "You've defeated us, we're ashamed, STOP!" This Bartlett said it perfectly, even sobbing into a hankerchief - which I thought illustrated which interpretation he had very well.
  • The Dr. Hall in this production didn't seem to deliver the final AHA moment of the show as profoundly as I would've liked. The moment in which he changes his vote should have a lot of impact because that's when Adams sees that the tide is starting to shift... Most performances that I've seen, I've gotten goosebumps when Dr. Hall changes his vote, but this time it was just as if he was opening the window... the importance of that moment didn't seem to be emphasized at all. :(


All in all it was a lovely, lovely production and I'm so glad that I got the chance to see it!! I'm seeing it again on Sunday night (which, I had no idea, but Kevin mentioned was Opening Night so that should be amazing!) :)

Tomorrow I'm seeing "Every Little Step" - the documentary of the recent "A Chorus Line" revival at the Chelsea Cinemas (where I saw "Save Me") and I'm going to do some shopping so it should be another wonderful NYC day! :) Hope you all are well!! HUGS!!
 
 
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Care: Two Thumbs Upcareleswhisper on April 18th, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you are having a great time so far. :D NJ Transit could seem scary, but it's not all that bad. Glad to hear you had a nice experience.
Sheri: Sheri Mangashutterbug93 on April 19th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Carrie!! At first Penn Station was VERY daunting... luckily there were very nice people all around willing to point me in the right direction. :) And the train rides there and back weren't bad at all! I have to do it again tonight, though... and at night - so we'll see how it differs... ;)

Edited at 2009-04-19 02:04 pm (UTC)
waytoocoolrevwaytoocoolrev on April 22nd, 2009 03:24 am (UTC)
I hope you didn't have any trouble in the evening. And yes, Penn Station is very daunting when you're new to it! It can be very confusing; I'm glad you found friendly people to guide you as needed!
Sheri: Kevin as Edward Rutledge in shutterbug93 on April 22nd, 2009 04:14 am (UTC)
The ride back was fine on Sunday and there were A LOT of people who'd seen the production who were on the train too, so that was nice. :)
waytoocoolrevwaytoocoolrev on April 22nd, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
I agree with most of your thoughts. The Dr. Hall moment did not seem memorable or profound, but I'm not knowledgeable to know quite what was missing.

And yes, Thomson was wonderful and really did show great emotion at the end; very moving.

However, I found it hard to like Dickinson, until the very end when he said he would fight with the Americans. Cuccioli did a good job; I just didn't like the character's attitude!

I liked John Adams & both ladies very much. Don Stephenson as Adams was convincing, sympathetic, and just irritating enough to fit the obnoxious and disliked role! And the scenes with Abigail were as sweet as could be.

And I have to put in a word for our Rutledge, James Barbour. I'd have enjoyed hearing Kevin Earley in the role as you admire his portrayal so much, but I though Barbour's singing was amazing, frightening and condeming... I was impressed.

What a great time! Megan loved the show as well, and we're both glad we went Sunday night too!

Thanks again!
Sheri: Kevin as Edward Rutledge in shutterbug93 on April 22nd, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
The Dr. Hall moment did not seem memorable or profound, but I'm not knowledgeable to know quite what was missing.

I'm actually now wondering if the placement of the voting board had anything to do with it. It was really far back and in the middle,... most productions that I see, it's been off to the (house) right side a bit. The Dr. Hall in most of the other productions that I've seen will change his vote THEN say that the quote was from a member of the British Parliament. And most times his vote change gave me goosebumps AND gets a round of applause... Not sure exactly why this production didn't have the same effect.

Thanks for joining me - both times!! Sorry I couldn't talk more during the Sunday night show - that restroom line was just too darn long! :P

Edited at 2009-04-23 03:31 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on April 22nd, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
@Paper_Mill
I would love to link up this blog post on @Paper_Mill's twitter account. Do you have a screen name that I can give credit to for this post?

Thanks,
Jen Hudon
Development Associate
Sheri: Sheri Mangashutterbug93 on April 23rd, 2009 07:07 am (UTC)
Re: @Paper_Mill
I don't have a Twitter account, unfortunately... :(
(Anonymous) on April 23rd, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
Re: @Paper_Mill
Aw, oh well. We posted a link to your blog. We just started our twitter account, you can check it out here: http://twitter.com/Paper_Mill

Thanks for reviewing 1776! Hope to see you at Paper Mill for Full Monty.

-J
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