Monday, July 16, 2007

"It Is Their Right, It Is Their Duty..."

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is the right, it is the duty, to throw off such Government and to provide new Guards for their future security.

--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"I Tell You This Document is a Masterful Expression of the American Mind"

The show has closed.

The parties have been thrown.
The reviews are in.

The awards have been awarded.

So where do I stand with this blog? Do I end here and leave it in the blogosphere to be sought, read and remembered for "posterity" as John Adams so earnestly yearned for himself? Do I continue to add tidbits as I think of them or are reminded of them as life happens?

For now, I will finish what I started which was to take small "biteable" sections of the Declaration of Independence and post them and illustrate them. After all, when did you last sit down and read the entire Declaration?
The writers of 1776 brought to life this story and these incredible men and women. Perhaps, by posting smaller pieces of the Declaration, others can read and really understand what an incredible document this is, what a huge risk these men took, and what it really meant for our country.
Franklin: And besides, what will posterity think we were--demigods? We're men--no more, no less--trying to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed.
So, for Posterity, Ben, John Adams, and Doak.

"It's a Masterpiece I Say"

In the song The Egg John Adams sings:

"It's a masterpiece I say...

They will cheer ev'ry word,

Ev'ry letter...!

And so they did! 1776 was a huge hit selling out virtually every performance. The show enjoyed unprecedented wonderful reviews in the paper and on TV and accolades from audience members that are still continuing. In addition, the show won numerous theatre awards. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew for an outstanding experience and an incredible show!

THESPIES AWARDS: for 1776 given by The Lansing State Journal:

Best Overall Show: 1776

Best Musical: 1776

Best Actor: Doak Bloss as John Adams

Best Supporting Actor: Charles Slocum as Ben Franklin

Best Character Actress:Emily English as Abigail Adams

Best Director:Jane Falion

Best Musical Direction: Lynne Palmer Warren

Best Costumes: Mary K Nees-Hodges

Best Set Dressing: Barb Stauffer

Special Award for Best Solo: Zechariah Schrum

BARNEY AWARDS: presented by Riverwalk Theatre

Lead Actor, Musical: Charles Slocum as Ben Franklin

Supporting Actor, Musical: Dale Powell as Edward Rutledge

Supporting Actress, Musical: Emily English as Abigail Adams

Featured Actor, Musical: Paul Tarr as Colonel Thomas McKean

Director: Jane Falion

Musical Direction: Lynne Palmer Warren

Choreography: David Schmidt

Set Design: Jane Falion

Set Dressing: Jane Falion

Backstage Award: Rich Helder

Howard Lancour Award: Zechariah Schrum


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

"It is the Right of the People"

That, whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed

Monday, July 2, 2007

"We hold these truths..."

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States"

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation

"If We Don't Hang Together"

Franklin continues with: "We most assuredly will hang together." McKean responds with:
" In my case hanging won't be so bad--one snap and it'll be over--just like that! But look at Read there--he'll be dancing a jig long after I'm gone!"

The original quote comes from Benjamin Harrison of Virginia to Elbridge Gerry of Massachusettes:
"I shall have a great advantage over you when we are all hung for what we are now doing, Mr. Jerry, from the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes but from the likeness of your body you will dance in the air for one hour."

A few factoids: Elbridge Gerry entered Harvard at the age of 14, and after his father and sisters were killed by lightening, Benjamin Harrison took over and ran the family plantation.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"New England Has Been Fighting the Devil"

Just when I thought there was nothing left to write, after all 1776 had a wildly successful run but closed two weeks ago, I was watching the DVD preparing to narrate a "director's commentary" when I was struck by some dialogue that sent me back to the Internet for research. Consider these lines.

Dickinson: My dear Congress--you must not adopt this evil measure--it is the work of the devil. Leave it where it belongs--in New England!

Sherman: Brother Dickinson, New England has been fighting the devil for more than a hundred years.

Dickinson: As of now, "Brother" Sherman, the devil has been winning hands down!

My question was, "Why New England?" I'm sure you remember reading in high school, The Crucible, The Scarlett Letter, The Devil and Daniel Webster, The Devil and Tom Walker, the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Cotton Mather; all about New England and the devil.

According to The Devil's Dominion: Magic and Religion in New England, "The New England colonists brought with them from England a variety of magical beliefs and practices. Most English men and women were aware of the folk practitioners who provided magical services. Many were skilled at healing and divining. Magic was very popular during this time and used often. Robert Burton a don at Christ Church Oxford (1599-1640) wrote that there were 'cunning men, wizards and white witches in every village which if sought into will help almost all infirmities of body and mind.'" Althought the good New Englanders were mostly Puritans, christianity and magical skills seemed to cooexist.

The reference might also have been to the Salem Witch trials a mere 84 years previous in 1692.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

"Pale Puny Things Beside New England Girls"

The extraordinary love affair between John and Abigail Adams is well documented through their letters to one another; many of which provide the lyrics and dialogue in the musical 1776. She indeed was not a "pale, puny thing."

Abigial Adams was born Abigail Smith on November 11, 1744 in Weymouth, Massachusetts, the daughter of a clergyman. She was raised by her grandmother. She and John Adams were married in 1764, and while John practiced law over the next ten years the couple gave birth to two daughters and three sons. As John became busier serving their country during the events surrounding the American Revolution, Abigail endured the long separations from John and successfully raised their children during extremely difficult times - wartime shortages, inflation, little hired help, home schooling of her children when schooling became unavailable, and incredible loneliness. Famous for her long and endearing letters of love and advice to her husband during his absences (more than half their married life was spent away from each other), she truly had a great hand in guiding John Adams' political career. This working political relationship continued from John's appointment as a diplomatic envoy in Paris to then becoming the first United States Minister to Great Britain, through John's tenure then as the first Vice President and then the second President of the United States. Abigail and John retired to Quincy, Massachusetts in 1801. Abigail died on October 28, 1818, and she and John are buried beside each other at United First Parish Church in Quincy.

She is known for her request that he and the Continental Congress:

...remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
John to your extraordinary code of laws, I cannot but laugh...Depend upon it, we know better Than to repeal our masculine systems.

If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"...We're Rotting for Want of It"

Although Hopkins was talking about independence today's blog is dedicated to the 1776 "junkies" who need their daily 1776 "fix" when there's no show, no rehearsal, and no party.

"...tria juncta in uno"
Latin for "three joined into one," the motto of the Order of the Bath. This was an ancient order in the British Isles, dating back to at least the 11th century. In 1725 King George I revived it as a reward for military service. The honoree could wear a red riband and star upon which were three crowns surrounded by the Latin motto.

The Royal Governor of New Jersey
With his common-law wife Deborah, Benjamin Franklin had a daughter (Sara or "Sally") and a son (Francis or "Franky"). Franky died of smallpox in his fifth year, a devastating blow to his parents. Before Franklin married Deborah, he had conceived an illegitimate son (William) with a woman whose name is lost to history. Deborah agreed to raise William in her household, although apparently she had no particular maternal feelings towards William, especially after the death of her own son. Franklin, however, was quite close to "Billy" throughout most of his life, until, that is, the trouble started with Great Britain. Franklin eventually came to side with those who wanted to break from Britain, while Billy remained a loyalist. This created a schism between father and son that lasted the rest of Franklin's life, although after the war Billy made some futile efforts at reconciliation. So Franklin's reference a little bit later to "the little bastard" probably is an accurate presentation of his feelings.

"Necessity of Taking Up Arms"
In 1775 the Continental Congress had Thomas Jefferson draft a statement as to why the British Colonies were taking up arms against the mother country. Jefferson's draft was considered too inflammatory, so John Dickinson was enlisted to tone the language down. The passage Adams quotes here does not appear in the final draft, so possibly it was one of the passages deemed too inflammatory.

"When heaven calls to me..."
Martha Jefferson was to die from complications surrounding childbirth a mere six years after the events depicted here.

"...what is a man profited, if he shall gain Mary-land and lose the entire South?"
Matthew 16:26: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

"I founded the first anti-slavery society on this continent!"
It's true that Franklin did help to found such a group, but he did so after the creation of the Declaration, so this reference is an anachronism.

Monday, June 4, 2007

"Mr Thomson - is the Declaration of Independence Ready to be Signed?"

Hancock: Is the Declaration of Independence ready to be signed?

Thomson: It is

Hancock: Then I suggest we do so.

But did they? Actually, No.

The handwritten copy of the Declaration was sent a few blocks away to the printing shop of John Dunlap. That night he made an estimated 200-500 copies of the document known as broadsides. It was "signed" by John Hancock and Charles Thompson. Their names are at the bottom in printed not signature form. The document was not actually signed on July 4. On July 5, 1776 copies were distributed to members of Congress to be "published" in their own states. It was not until July 15 that the document actually read "the unanimous Declaration of the 13 States of America." On July 19 Congress ordered that the document be engrossed (handwritten in fair script on parchment) by Timothy Matlack the assistant secretary, to Charles Thomson, of the Congress. The broadside with only Hancock and Thomson's names attached was sent to King George later that year. It was not until 1777 that the names of all the signers were added to the Declaration.

Most of Congress signed the document on August 2, 1776. A second printing was commissioned and completed by Mary Katharine Goddard on January 18, 1777. For the first time all signers were listed. In 1823 William Stone made an engraving of the document using a wet ink transfer process. The document was moistened and the wet ink was transferred to a copper plate and then painstakingly etched. It is the copies of the Stone engraving that are used today. Sadly, however, that compromised the quality of the original and through time, travel, sunlight, and the wet ink process the original document disintegrated and no longer exists.

25 known broadside copies exist today. Most of them are in museums or universities; 2 are in the UK. The one closest to home is at Indiana University at Bloomington (do I hear road trip?) and 1 is owned by Norman Lear of "All in the Family" fame. 1 unsigned copy sold for $8.14 million in NY in 2000. It was found concealed behind the backing of a painting bought at a flea market for $4!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

"For I Have Crossed the Rubicon"

At the end of 1776, John poignantly and defiantly sings:

"For I have crossed the Rubicon

Let the bridge be burn'd behind me

Come what may, Come what may"

The Rubicon*.
The point of no return. And that is where I proudly sit today on the day of Opening Night of 1776.

No regrets, no going back. It is time to move forward; to share this amazing cast and story. This has been an incredible journey for me. I have been so honored and awed to be in the presence of so many extraordinary performers and technicians. Thank you for all your hard work, for all the fun and most of all for your Commitment!

Join us and see what all the "buzz" is about.


May 31-June 3, June 7-10

Friday and Saturday 8 p.m.
Sunday- 2p.m.

Riverwalk Theatre

Reservations 482-5700
*"Crossing the Rubicon" is a popular idiom meaning to go past a point of no return because the river was an ancient boundary between Gaul and Italy. Julius Caesar crossed the river in 49 BC deliberately as an act of war where he is supposed to have said that "the die is cast" and where he would eventually come to power. Wikipedia

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"It So Happens that the Word is Unalienable not Inalienable."?

"Inalienable" (or "unalienable") is a term borrowed from English common law. Some property rights were alienable (they could be sold or granted) and some were inalienable (they could only be inherited according to fixed rule). The distinction between alienable and unalienable rights was introduced by Frances Hutcheson (philosopher) in his A System of Moral Philosophy (1755) based on the Reformation principle of the liberty of conscience. One could not in fact give up the capacity for private judgment (e.g., about religious questions) regardless of any external contracts or oaths to religious or secular authorities so that right is "unalienable." In discussions of social contract theory, "inalienable rights" were said to be those rights that could not be surrendered by citizens to the sovereign. Such rights were thought to be natural rights, independent of positive law. Natural rights date back at least to the Roman Empire, and were recognized during medieval times, but in this context are an element of the classical liberalism of the 18th and 19th centuries. Classical Liberal thinkers reasoned that each man is endowed with rights, of which the rights to life, liberty and property were thought to be fundamental. However, they reasoned that in the natural state only the strongest could benefit from their rights. Each individual forms an implicit social contract, ceding his or her rights to the authority to protect his or her right from being abused. For this reason, almost all classical liberal thinkers, for example, accepted the death penalty and incarceration as necessary elements of government. In England and America the 17th-century philosopher John Locke discussed natural rights in his work, and identified them as being "life, liberty, and estate (or property)", and argued that such fundamental rights could not be surrendered in the social contract. These ideas were claimed as justification for the rebellion of the American colonies. As George Mason stated in his draft for the Virginia Declaration of Rights, "all men are born equally free," and hold "certain inherent natural rights, of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity." Jefferson took his division of rights into alienable and unalienable from Hutcheson, who made the distinction popular and important."In the The 1776 United States Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson famously condensed this to:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. . ." (from Wikipedia)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Yet through all the Gloom"

"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states.Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory.I can see that the end is worth all the means.This is our day of deliverance." - John Adams

Saturday, May 26, 2007

"And When They Didn't Come Home..."

On the eve of signing the most important document in history, the Courier brings his last dispatch from George Washington to the members of Congress:

"I can now report with certainty that the eve of battle in New York is near at hand... At the present time my forces consist entirely of Haslet's Delaware Militia and Smallwood's Mary-landers, a total of five thousand troops to stand against--twenty five thousand of the enemy--and I begin to notice that many of them are lads under fifteen and old men...How it will end only Providence can direct--but dear God! what brave men--I shall lose before this business ends."

Words with such poignancy as America commemorates this memorial day in the midst of our celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"It's Hot as Hell, in Philadelphia"

The construction of the Pennsylvania State House later known as Independence Hall was the most ambitious and biggest building project of the thirteen colonies. It took almost 21 years for it to be completed because the Provincial government paid for it in dribs and drabs. Andrew Hamilton oversaw the planning and worked to see it completed. The Declaration was written here as well as the Constitution. Interesting factoids: the basement once served as the city's dog pound and the second floor was once the home to Charles Wilson's museum of natural history. Some historians note that Ben Franklin would occasionally trip other delegates from his aisle seat. Ev The days were very hot in the summer of 1776 and whether to open up the windows or close them was a source of contention with the delegates. On the one hand were the flies that invaded Congress from the nearby stables and the need for the proceeding to be kept secret that prevented their being open. On the other hand, it was oppressively hot that summer and the delegates in their heavy brocaded waistcoats and jackets were melting under the heat. Compromise was called for but not often achieved in this matter.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Join and Die?

Hancock: Very well, gentleman, we are about to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper, and how it will end God only knows.
Hopkins: That's a pretty large signature Johnny.
Hancock: So fat George in London can read it without his glasses! All right gentlemen - step right up- and don't miss your chance to commit treason.
Franklin: Hancock's right-this paper is our passport to the gallows. But there's no backing out now- if we don't hang together- we shall most assuredly hang separately. (from the musical 1776)
When the members of the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence they were committing treason against Britain, according to British law. The punishment for treason was designed to discourage this type of behavior.
First you were drawn - dragged by a horse to your place of execution (sometimes on a hurdle). Then you were hanged by the neck, but not with a sudden drop which would quickly break your neck. You got to suffer slowly... Then, before you were dead, you were cut down, stripped of your clothes, your genitals were cut off, your bowels cut out, and they were burned before your eyes. Your body was then quartered (cut into four parts) and submitted to the king for his just disposal...

Thank You

Thank you to all of those who sent my cast and me good wishes. I'll really appreciate it and I'm sure the students will when I get to tell them on opening night! Best of luck to you all as you finish up your last few weeks of rehearsal! I'm so excited to see the show!!!

-Katie (Jane's daughter)

(mom... sorry I hacked your blog, but you should never give out your password ;) you needed an update anyways. :) love you and see you soon!)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

"I Can Hear The Bells"

Hancock is the first to sign the Declaration. After he signs he says;

"Gentlemen-forgive me if I don't join in the merriment-but if we're arrested now my name is still the only one on the damn thing!"

"Very well, Gentlemen. McNair-go ring the bell."

What do you really know about the Liberty Bell? We know it is cracked, but how? Where is it today? The script says, "The tolling of the Liberty Bell begins." Factual or not?

"The Liberty Bell is a treasured pre-Revolutionary War relic that was first hung on June 7, 1753 in the tower of the newly finished Pennsylvania State House ... the building that would eventually become Independence Hall.

The Liberty Bell was ordered in 1751 and was first cast in London, England. It arrived in Philadelphia in August, 1752 and was cracked "by a stroke of the clapper during a test without any other violence." It was melted down, and a second bell was cast in April 1753, but this one was also defective. A third was cast in June of that year, by Pass and Stowe, "two ingenious workmen" of Philadelphia.
In the re-casting, the English model was broken up and the same metal was used with the addition of one and one-half ounces of American copper to the pound of the old bell metal to make the bell less brittle. The same form and lettering were preserved with the substitution of the names of the founders, the place and year of re-casting.

It weighs over 2,080 pounds (943 kilograms) and is 12 feet (3.7 m) in circumference circumference at the lip. The colonial province of Pennsylvania paid about $300 for it.

It became known as the "Liberty Bell" about 1839, when abolitionists began to refer to it that way. Previously, the bell had been called the "State House Bell."
The inscription on the bell, "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," is taken from the Bible (Lev. 25:10).

It was rung on July 8, 1776, with other church bells, after the public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1777, during the American Revolution, British troops occupied Philadelphia. The bell was removed from the tower and hidden in Allentown, Pennsylvania for safekeeping. It was returned to Philadelphia and replaced in Independence Hall in 1778." (

From what musical does the title of this blog come?

Friday, May 4, 2007

Founding Feathers

Thanks to Doak for the title of this entry as well as the question.

"Besides the eagle, the dove, and the turkey, seven kinds of birds are mentioned in 1776. . we're not counting 'gulled' but one of the seven is part of an adjective phrase. five are spoken; two are sung. (And don't include 'eaglet' either, since the adult's already been counted.) What are they?

On another note, here is yesterday's question:

"There is something peculiar about the opening notes of 'He plays the violin'-the notes that accompany the first four words, the words in the title. What is it?"

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ought Someone to Open Up a Window?

More great trivia from the fertile mind of Doak:

Washington's dispatches in the show make many references to the approach of General Howe's forces to New York Harbor. The battle that occurred there after the signing of the Declaration was pretty much a rout, with Washington literally whipping and beating his troops to keep them from running away as fast as they could. The other American general was captured by the British, and then sent to Congress in Philadelphia to invite a committee to New York to discuss reconciliation. Adams vigorously opposed the meeting, but insisted on being part of it anyway because he thought others would botch it.Adams, Franklin, and Rutledge traveled to New York to meet with General Howe--a meeting where all three Congressmen listened to the offer of peace but summarily rejected it. On the way there, however, Adams and Franklin shared a bed at an inn, and fell into an argument about--guess what?--whether or not it was advisable to keep a window open while sleeping. Adams believed that the night air was full of dangerous things that promoted ill health. Franklin on the other hand believed that it was unhealthy to sleep in a closed room with one's soiled clothes. Although they never settled the argument, Franklin got his way, and Adams lay awake for an hour or so dreading a health calamity and listening to the good doctor expound upon his theory of the health benefits of open windows at night.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Spit Not in the Fire

Among the many things written by George Washington is this booklet written before he was 16. 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.

2 When in company, put not your hands to any part of the body not usually discovered
6 Sleep not when others speak; sit not when others stand; speak not when you should hold your peace; walk not on when others stop
10 When you sit down, keep your feet firm and even; without putting one on the other or crossing them.qualities [damaged manuscript] virtue or kindred.
74 When another speaks, be attentive yourself; and disturb not the audience. If any hesitate in his words, help him not nor prompt him without desired; interrupt him not, nor answer him till his speech has ended
79 Be not apt to relate news if you know not the truth thereof. In discoursing of things you have heard, name not your author always; a secret discover not
90 Being set at meat scratch not, neither spit, cough, or blow your nose except there's a necessity for it.
91 Make no show of taking great delight in your the table; neither find great delight in your victuals; feed not with greediness; eat your bread with a knife; lean not on the table; neither find fault with what you eat.
97 Put not another bite into your mouth till the former be swallow; let not your morsels be too big.
98 Drink not nor talk with your mouth full; neither gaze about you while you are a drinking
103 In company of your betters be not [damaged manuscript] than they are; lay not your arm but [damaged manuscript110 Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

Monday, April 30, 2007

I See Fireworks

Adams sings:

I see the pageant, and pomp, and parade!

I hear the bells ringing out!

I hear the canons roar!

Adams extraordinary prophesy about the way Americans would celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence is written in a letter, July 3, 1776, to his wife Abigail. The original lines are as follows:

"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illumination, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward."

He goes on to say regarding what this declaration will mean:

"...I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration and support and defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust God we shall not."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jefferson, a Virgin

Ah, the creative minds of students. Below is an excerpt from a paper written and submitted by a student.

One of the causes of the Revolutionary Wars was the English put tacks in their tea. Also, the colonists would send their pacels through the post without stamps.

During the War, Red Coats and Paul Revere was throwing balls over stone walls. The dogs were barking and the peacocks crowing. Finally, the colonists won the War and no longer had to pay for taxis.

Delegates from the original thirteen states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Franklin had gone to Boston carrying all his clothes in his pocket and a loaf of bread under each arm. He invented electricity by rubbing cats backwards and declared "a horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You're a Good Man Charlie Brown

Amazing, I figured this out. Here are some photos from Thailand Charlie Brown. Now maybe I can post our show photos. stay tuned.

Go Fly a Kite

Who said , "I love Mankind, it's just people I can't stand" ?

You may be surprised. It wasn't John Adams but Charlie Brown. Ok, maybe someone else said it before him but it's a great segue to a different blog entry altogether.

I'm going to digress and brag a little bit. My beautiful and smart daughter has been in Thailand for the past year teaching biology to 9th graders at Grace International School. She'll be returning in time to see our last performance of "1776" and then, after a few weeks break, is off to Wayne State University School of Medicine. But, along with teaching, she is also directing the musical "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" at her school. Imagine the obstacles of directing a show in Thailand.

She has just emailed photos from the show and I thought you all might enjoy seeing some. So, I am going to attempt to post some on this blog. Knowing my expertise with computers (My daughter made me a "How To" computer book before she left, which tells you something about me expertise)I may or may not be successful. In any case, if I'm not successful you can go to her blog at and click on the Picassa link on the left side. It's also a pretty cool site to follow her adventures in Thailand and maybe even catch a photo or two of my trip to Thailand as well as Larry and John's trip. Enjoy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Something Borrowed

Doak just sent this along and I'm passing it along to you. 1776 is full of interesting, seemingly "hidden" references.

The score of "1776" contains quotations, either musically or lyrically, from 1)
a nursery rhyme, 2) a children's song, and 3) a well-known American song that
wasn't yet written in 1776. Name them.

Answers tonight at rehearsal or in the blog tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia is for Lovers!

Adams: Will you be a patriot? Or a lover?
Jefferson: A lover!

When Thomas Jefferson came courting, Martha Wayles Skelton at 22 was already a widow, an heiress, and a mother whose firstborn son would die in early childhood. Family tradition says that she was accomplished and beautiful--with slender figure, hazel eyes, and auburn hair--and wooed by many. Perhaps a mutual love of music cemented the romance; Jefferson played the violin, and one of the furnishings he ordered for the home he was building at Monticello was a "forte-piano" for his bride.

They were married on New Year's Day, 1772, at the bride's plantation home "The Forest," near Williamsburg. When they finally reached Monticello in a late January snowstorm to find no fire, no food, and the servants asleep, they toasted their new home with a leftover half-bottle of wine and "song and merriment and laughter." That night, on their own mountaintop, the love of Thomas Jefferson and his bride seemed strong enough to endure any adversity

The birth of their daughter Martha in September increased their happiness. Within ten years the family gained five more children. Of them all, only two lived to grow up: Martha, called Patsy, and Mary, called Maria or Polly.

The physical strain of frequent pregnancies weakened Martha Jefferson so gravely that her husband curtailed his political activities to stay near her. He served in Virginia's House of Delegates and as governor, but he refused an appointment by the Continental Congress as a commissioner to France.

Just after New Year's Day, 1781, a British invasion forced Martha to flee the capital in Richmond with a baby girl a few weeks old--who died in April. In June the family barely escaped an enemy raid on Monticello. She bore another daughter the following May, and never regained a fair measure of strength. Jefferson wrote on May 20 that her condition was dangerous. After months of tending her devotedly, he noted in his account book for September 6, "My dear wife died this day at 11:45 A.M." (from


Virginia is not simply Virginia but the Commonwealth of Virginia. . Named after Queen Elizabeth I of England, who was known as the Virgin Queen.

The English noun Commonwealth dates originally from the fifteenth century. The original phrase "common wealth" or "the common weal" comes from the old meaning of "wealth" which is "well-being" (Merriam-Webster word of the day, Jul 22,2006).

The term literally meant "common well-being". Thus commonwealth originally meant a state governed for the common good as opposed to an authoritarian state governed for the benefit of a given class of owners.

Virginia is known as the "Mother of Presidents", because it is the birthplace of eight U.S. presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson), exceeded by no other state. Most of the United States' early presidents were from the state.

Virginia has also been known as the "Mother of States", because portions of the original Colony subsequently became Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia as well as some portions of Ohio. Additionally, most of what is now Wisconsin and MICHIGAN was also briefly claimed by Virginia during the Revolutionary War.

Today, Virginia's slogan is "Virginia Is For Lovers!". The slogan itself has an interesting history:

If ever a year needed a dose of love it was 1969. Helicopter gun ships swooped in low on Vietnamese villages, hundreds of thousands of protesters rioted across the nation against the war, and for the first time during the Vietnam War 100 American combat deaths were reported in one week. “All we are saying, is give peace a chance,” sang John Lennon. During that long, hot summer the Manson gang struck in California, and Hurricane Camille devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast and parts of Virginia.

In 1969, the symbol of the prosperous 1950s -- Dwight D. Eisenhower -- died, as did Ho Chi Minh, president of North Vietnam, and singer Judy Garland. Americans were reading The Godfather and Portnoy’s Complaint and watching Easy Rider, Bullitt and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at the movies. Johnny Cash sang A Boy Named Sue; and Hair debuted, forever changing Broadway’s dress code. The “Miracle Mets” won the World Series, and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. It was “The Age of Aquarius.”

That year Robin McLaughlin, a $100-a-week copywriter for a Richmond ad agency, came up with an idea - that “Virginia is for Lovers.” Virginia was for lovers of beaches, mountains, horses, history - even each other - and there was the rub. “Free love” was a catchphrase of the time, when rebellious youth were changing the rules of courtship, and anxious tourism officials were skeptical about using a potentially controversial phrase.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Franklin Did This, Franklin Did That

John Adams' prediction that Franklin would be remembered far better than himself, of course,came true. Franklin himself as a statesman, inventor, philosopher, chemist, humorist ambassador, herb doctor and wit will long be remembered. We see and use his aphorisms almost on a daily basis. His "Poor Richard's Almanac" was a huge success and at the time, almost every household had a copy of it.

Here are a few not so well known sayings of Ben's.

If you would not be forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worthy reading,
Or do things worth the writing.

People who are wrapped up in themselves make small packages.

Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a folly.

There was never a good war or a bad peace.

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.
Letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy [Nov. 13, 1789]

When Ben Franklin was 22 years old he wrote an epitaph that he imagined might appear on his grave marker.

The body of
B. Franklin, Printer
(Like the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents torn Out
And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding)
Lies Here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be Lost;
For it Will (as he Believ'd) Appear once More
In a New and More Elegant Edition
Revised and Corrected
By the Author

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Cast Trivia:
Many of you may not be aware that we have a celebrity amongst us (sorry Matt, if I embarrass you). Matt Ottinger gave Ken Jennings of "Jeopardy" a run for his money when he competed against him leading by $2400 after the first round. he even has his own Wikipedia entry! How's that for FAME. The Wikipedia entry will link you to the many sites maintained by our multi talented cast member. You can also read an interview at

More Trivia compliments of Doak.

Four types of dance are mentioned in the show, each by a different character.
What are they, and who mentions them? Hint: Two are sung, two are spoken.

Did you Know?

George Washington sent up to three dispatches a day to Congress. His armies strength was dismal. As reported in the Duty Roster of the Continental Army:
Commissioned officers 589
Non-commissioned officers 722
Present and fit for duty 6,641
Sick but present 547
Sick but absent 352
On furlough 66
A.W.O.L. 1,122

Piddle, Twiddle and Fribble

Our trivia King Matt Ottinger has once again provided us with some more fascinating information. As Dickinson and Adams build up to a real stick fight they trade barbs at one another:
Dickinson: This Boston radical-this a-gi-ta-tor-this demagogue-this madman
Adams: Are you calling me a madman, you--you--you--fribble!!

Here's Matt's information about fribble.

You might have already looked the word up in the dictionary and found it
to mean 'a frivolous or trifling person'. Turns out that's a modern,
watered-down version. The truth (as it always seems with this show) is
infinitely more interesting.

"Fribble" was a character in a popular David Garrick farce called "Miss
in Her Teens", written in 1747 and therefore presumably known to the
cultured and educated men of Congress. Garrick himself played the
character, an effeminate fop. The insult is, if anything, an attack on
Dickinson's very manhood.

And yes, Adams used the word in his own writings.

Bill S. has also provided us with interesting information with illustrations! on defending yourself in a sick fight, common in Congress at the time.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"And They're Off"

Welcome to the cast Dr. Josiah Bartlett aka. Greg Pratt. You may have seen Greg last in "The Ritz"

Dr. Josiah Bartlett caused quite a dustup when he proposed to Congress to discourage "elaborate funerals and other expensive diversions, especially horse racing.." As a passionate fan of thoroughbred horse racing I would have shouted him down too. Here's a little trivia about colonial horse racing.

Although quarter horse racing--two horses running full speed for a quarter mile--and harness racing began their development in America as early 1665, thoroughbred racing did not exist in America until Oliver Cromwell's government (see Part I) forced Royalists and Cavaliers out of England. These families, with their wealth, customs and traditions, settled in Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina; they also enslaved Africans, whose knowledge of hot-blooded horses far exceeded that of their masters. In 1730, Bulle Rock, then a 21-year old of the Darley Arabian (see Part II), became the first true thoroughbred brought to America. Other colonists were involved over the years, including George Washington, who managed a track in Alexandria, Virginia and trained horses at Mount Vernon both before and after the American Revolution. But pedigree record keeping was shoddy in the South, and as debts to England for all colonists continued to escalate leading up to the Revolution, Northern colonial congresses urged the prohibition of all forms of extravagance, especially horse racing. Southerners refused, arguing that racing was a way of life, and an excellent preparation for a war that would erase all their foreign debts. Unfortunately, the Revolution and military effort depleted the thoroughbred stock, and after the war thoroughbred breeding had to begin all over again. From Call to the Derby Post

Speaking of the Derby, it's on my list of things to do before I ____(well you know) horses to keep an eye on are: Dominican, Street Sense, Great Hunter, and a long shot with a great name, Nobiz Like Shobiz.

Thanks to Paul Tarr for bringing us Julie Reed's famous wahoos of Sensuous Bean, Dean Bean, and Beebo's fame.

Congratulations to Matt Ottinger for correctly answering yesterday's trivia questions with: Protestant Women of Independence and fal waving.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Heat, Humidity, and Horseflies

It was unusually hot and humid in Philadelphi in the spring of 1776. These conditions led to a "bumper crop" of horseflies originating from the stable next door to Independence Hall.

The answers to yesterday's trivia questions are (more details on bulletin board) :
1. Richard Nixon
2. a song
3. Richard Henry Lee

"Welcome to the Theatre" was sung by Lauren Bacall in "Applause".

Be the first to answer the trivia questions by clicking on the pink "comments" at the end of the blog. Thanks to my daughter,Katie, who from Thailand added the links for me and configured the site so you can add comments.

Theatre Superstitions
There is a superstition that if an emptied theater is ever left completely dark, a ghost will take up residence. In other versions the same superstition the ghosts of past performances return to the stage to live out their glory moments. To prevent this, a single light is left burning at center stage after the audience and all of the actors and musicians have gone.

The Origin:

The origin of this superstition is rooted in both practicality and further superstition itself! The practicality, of course, is that people coming into a darkened theatre cannot see what delicate costumes, sharp and pointy props, and dangerous set pieces have been left lying about, and a light is important to prevent injury, property damage, or lawsuits.
The other reason lends itself to further superstition. A “dark” theatre is a theatre without a play. There is nothing more sad to a drama artist than an empty house and a playless stage. Therefore a light is left burning center stage so that the theatre is never “dark”. It is simply awaiting the next production.

Today's Trivia Questions
1. Who doesn't send their compliments with the kegs Agigail has delivered to John?
a. Sisterhood of the Touro Synagogue
b. Protestant Women for Independence
c. Holy Christian Sisters of St. Clair
d. Concord Ladies Coffee Club

2. What doesn't John see in committment
a. flags waving
b. parades
c. fireworks
d. pomp

"An actor is a sculptor who carves in snow" Lawrence Barrett

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Didn't Know That

Today's Trivia compliments of Doak Bloss

1. What public figure is said to be responsible for the removal of "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men" from the original film version of the play? (It was reinstated in the DVD)

2. From curtain to curtain "1776" holds the record as the Broadway musical with the longest stretch of time without what occurring?

3. Which member in Congress in real life had no fingers on his left hand?

(answers can be found on the rehearsal hall bulletin board)

George Read was a friend of Dickinson's which may explain why he clung so hard to the southern point of view. The deadlock within the Delaware delegation was in fact broken when Caesar Rodney, who in great pain rode all night from Dover, a distance of 80 miles, to vote for the motion on independence.

My first blog was titled "Welcome to the Theatre". From what musical does this song appear? Who sang it?

Thanks to all who worked so hard last night. We are done blocking Act I-3. Friday we will run the entire scene along with the first part of 1. Then we will move on to scene 5.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

1776 Trivia

What were the names of the couriers two friends who died at Lexington?

"Welcome to the Theatre"

Cast and crew members...a blog for you.

Why a blog? For the past 8 months my daughter has been in Thailand teaching biology. I have loved keeping up with her through her blog. In the same way, I thought this might be an effective and I hope fun way to keep you in the loop without snowing you with daily emails. I hope this space functions as a bulletin board for information about the show, a way to keep you in the loop when you must be absent from rehearsal, and a place to post trivia and photos.

Absent cast Members: We have blocked Act I-1 to the song, and I-3 to page 26. Tonight we will finish Act I-3 and run it. Mary K. our costumer has taken measurements for all but 4 cast members. If you haven't been measured yet, please see me. I passed out the following pieces of information that will be helpful to you: Bio sheets, Riverwalk Waiver, Rehearsal schedule, Contact list, Scenic design, and Stage Directions and notation sheet. Please check with Rich if you missed any of these. I will need all bios by the beginning of next week.

Makeup Kits: Academy Dance Arts is having a sale on makeup kits. If you don't have your own kit, this would be a great time to get one. I will be passing out forms that list the essential things that you will need.

Parking: When we are in the rehearsal hall or theatre, please park in the lot by the stage door. I believe there are enough spaces for everyone. If this is not the case please let Rich know and we'll open the front theatre doors and lock them after the first half hour.

Flyers: In the lobby there are half sheet and full sheet blue posters for 1776. If you would like to post them in your place of business that would be great. I believe full color posters will also be available.

Costumes: If you know anyone who sews and would be willing to help we could really use it. Mary K. will be creating some beautiful costumes but she is also working on St. Joan at the same time.

Thanks to Tom Klunzinger for our snacks, Paul Tarr for the pencils and humor, and Matt Ottinger for trivia.