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!!