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.