The Actorsingers

Presenting Community Theatre since 1955

1776 (1978)

Elm Street Junior High
April 14-16, 1978

Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards

Book by Peter Stone

Based on a Concept by Sherman Edwards

Original Production Directed by Peter Hunt

Originally Produced on the Broadway Stage by Stuart Ostrow

The Cast

Members of the Continental Congress


John Hancock Howard Jones

New Hampshire

Dr. Josiah Bartlett Alfred Erickson


John Adams Frank Graham

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins Maurice Coutu


Roger Sherman John Baird

New York

Lewis Morris Robert Narkunas

Robert Livingston Carlos Vargas-Mass

New Jersey

Rev. Jonathan Witherspoon Albin Tamulonis


Benjamin Franklin Jay Cormier

John Dickinson Donald E. Sisson

James Wilson Paul Asente


Caesar Rodney Wayne Vanier

Col. Thomas McKean Joel Levesque

George Read Bruce May


Samuel Chase David Crockett


Richard Henry Lee Sid Basha

Thomas Jefferson David Pierce

North Carolina

Joseph Hewes Mark Plamondon

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge Michael Davids


Dr. Lyman Hall John McAllister


Charles Thompson Terry Toland


Andrew McNair John Doherty


Abigail Adams Robin MacDonald

Martha Jefferson Bonnie Weymouth

A Leather Apron David Wood

A Painter David Wood

A Courier Russell Perrins


Violin Bozina Bruziak

Cello Rowena Carr

Bass Paul Pesce

Flute Heather Pyle

Clarinet Alison Price

Oboe Gail Grycel

Trumpet Dale Floman

Trombone Don Wallin, Alan Shepard

French Horn Ellen Michaud, Janet Mentus

Keyboard Jo Millett

Percussion Peter Marsh


Garrett Players

Nashua Auto Co., Inc.

Hampshire Music

Street Car Players

The Anselmian Summer Theater

Church of the Good Shepherd

Peerless Electrical Distributors

Machinist's in Manchester

New Hampshire Consistory 32nd Degree

Production and Staff List

Director-Choreographer Lorraine Graham

Musical Director Adrith Provencher

Pianist Jo Millett

Assistant Rehearsal Pianist Wendy Mahoney

Cast Coordinator Franceska Bosowski, assisted by Bob Narkunas

Set Design Joan Seller

Set Construction Justin Crowley, Warren Tomasian, Maurice Jennings, Frank Graham, Bill Schultz, Ray Tackett, George Marineau

Set Painting John Prendergast, Pam St. Laurent, Mary Gardner, Joan Marchie, Kay Goranson, Jim Sharkey, Chuck Stein, Lorraine Graham, Jewel Shanahan, Elaine Duhamel

Lighting Richard Meaney, David Gilmore, Bruce Tatro

Sound Ray Tackett

Stage Manager Bill Schultz

Stage Crew Justin Crowley, George Marineau, Warren Tomasian, Scott Benjaminson, Scott Shanahan

Costume Design Mary Vargas, assisted by Margaret Tamulonis

Costume Committee Inez Martinez, Betty Jones, Diane Rosenblum

Properties Elaine Duhamel, Mary Lou Tackett, Jewel Shanahan

Make-up Chairman Jackie Maynard

Character Make-up Pearl Ware, Claire Anderson

Make-up Committee Wendy Mahoney, Barbara Michaud, Linda Chojnowski, Inez Martinez

Hair Design Catherine Andruskevich

Stylists Fernand Croteau, Lorraine Graham

Program Linnea McAllister, assisted by Francesca Bosowski

Program Ads Dan Pelletier, Bob Narkunas, Lorraine Graham and Members of the Board

Patrons Albin Tamulonis

Tickets Denise Duhamel

Publicity Chairman Anne Way, assisted by Dan Pelletier

Posters, Program Cover, and Collage Arrangement Joel Saren

Cast Photographer Millie Wright

Studio Photographer Richard Croteau

House Chairmen Frances and Ernest Peterson

Ushers Gisele LaFrance, Linnea McAllister, Barbara and Donald Page, Margot Long, Edgar and Betty Badeau, Everett Millett, Margaret Tamulonis, Dianne Albright, Ena and Dan Carraher, Kay and Ed Goranson, Janice Rockwell, Bob and Carol Croatti, Clare Farr, Sue Baird

Concessions Jane & Valerie Vaskas, Fran Bosowski

Refreshments at Rehearsals Dan Pelletier

Membership Chairman Linnea McAllister

Bank Window Display Sally Ann Moyer

Afterglow Margaret Tamulonis, Bill Williamson, Susan Dumont, Jackie Maynard

Auditions Bob Narkunas, chairman; Carol Goss, Lorraine Graham, Adrith Provencher, Susan Dumont, John Liljeberg, Dodie Slingerland

Moving and Cleaning Crew Justin Crowley, Warren Tomasian, George Marineau, Maurice Jennings, Scott Shanahan, Walter Marcella, Members of the Cast

Historical Notes

The first question we are asked by those who have seen—or read—1776 is invariably: "Is it true? Did it really happen that way?"

The answer is yes.

Certainly a few changes have been made in order to fulfill basic dramatic tenets. To quote a European dramatist, "God writes lousy theater."

However, let us list those elements of our play that have been taken, unchanged and unadorned, from documented fact.

The weather in Philadelphia that late spring and early summer of 1776 was unusually hot and humid, resulting in a bumper crop of horseflies incubated in the stable next door to the State House (now Independence Hall).

John Adams was indeed "obnoxious and disliked"—the description is his own.

Benjamin Franklin, the oldest member of the Congress, suffered from gout in his later years and often "drowsed" in public.

Thomas Jefferson, the junior member of the Virginia delegation, was entrusted with the daily weather report.

Rhode Island's Stephen Hopkins, known to his colleagues as "Old Grape and Guts" because of his fondness for distilled refreshment, always wore his round black, wide-brimmed Quaker's hat in the chamber.

Portly Samuel Chase, the gourmand from Maryland (pronounced Mary-land in those times), was referred to (behind his back, of course) as "Bacon-Face."

Connecticut's Roger Sherman always sat apart from his fellow Congressmen, sipping coffee from a saucer-like bowl.

Caesar Rodney of Delaware, suffering from skin cancer, never appeared in public without a green scarf wrapped around his face.

George Washington's dispatches arrived on an average of three a day, and almost all of them were "gloomy" to the point of despair.

Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, the youngest member of Congress, was the leading proponent of individual rights for individual states.

Adams knew he would not receive his proper due from posterity. He wrote that "the whole history of this Revolution will be a lie, from beginning to end." And, equally, he knew that Franklin was the stuff of which national legends are built. They would certy that "Franklin did this, Franklin did that, Franklin did some other damned thing... Franklin smote the ground and out sprang George Washington, fully-grown and on his horse... Franklin then electrified him with his miraculous lightening rod and the three of them—Franklin, Washington and the horse—conducted the entire Revolution by themselves."

The Declaration of Independence was debated by the Congress for three full days. It underwent eighty-six separate changes.

Jefferson, though a slaveholder himself, declared that "nothing is more certainly written in the Book of Fate than that this people shall be free." And further: "The rights of human nature are deply wounded by this infamous practice."

The deadlock existing within the Delaware delegation was broken by mortally ill Caesar Rodney, who, in great pain, had ridden all night from Dover, a distance of some eighty miles, arriving just in time to save the motion on independence from being defeated.

When the motion on independence had passed, John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, the leader of the anti-independence forces, refused to sign the Declaration, a document he felt he could not endorse. But asserting a fidelity to America, he left the Congress to enlist in the Continental Army as a private—though he was entitled to a commission—and served courageously with the Delaware Militia.

The conversion of James Wilson of Pennsylvania from the "Nay" to the "Yea" column at the last minute is an event without any surviving explanation. All that is definitely known is that Wilson, a former law student of Dickinson's and certainly under his influence in Congress as his previous voting record testifies, suddenly changed his position on independence and, as a result, is generally credited with casting the vote that decided this issue. But why? A logical solution to this mystery was found when we imagined one fear he might have possessed that would have been stronger than his fear of Dickinson's wrath—the fear of going down in history as the man who singlehandedly prevented American independence. Such a position would have been totally consistent with his well-known penchant for caution.

The exchanges, spoken and sung, between John and Abigail Adams are the result of distributing, as dialogue, sections and phrases from various letters. The list of their children's diseases, the constant requests for "saltpetre for gunpowder" (and the counter-request for pins), the use of the tender salutation "Dearest Friend," the catalogue of Abigail's faults, the news of the farm in Braintree failing—even certain song lyrics transferred intact—all these were edited and rearranged in an attempt to establish a dramatically satisfying relationship.

This same process was used to construct George Washington's dispatches from the field. Literally dozens were selected, from which individual lines were borrowed and then patched together in order to form the five communiques that now appear in the play.

And finally, John Adams' extraordinary prophecy, made on July 3, 1776, describing the way Independence Day would be celebrated by future generations of Americans and written in a letter to his wife on that date has been paraphrased and adapted into lyric form for the song "Is Anybody There?" sung by Adams in Scene 7. The original lines are:

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 for evermore.

You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. 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 rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust to God we shall not.

We have attempted, in the paragraphs above, to answer the question, "Is it true?" What we cannot answer, however, is how such a question could possibly be asked so often by Americans. What they want to know is whether or not the story of their political origin, the telling of their national legend, is correct as presented. Don't they know? Haven't they ever heard it before? And if not, why not? As we say, it's a question we cannot answer.

The Time

May, June and July, 1776


The Place

A single setting representing the Chamber and an anteroom of the Continental Congress, a Mall, High Street, and Thomas Jefferson's Room, in Philadelphia; and certain reaches of the mind of John Adams.

The Musical Numbers


Scene 1 The Chamber of the Continental Congress

Sit Down, John John Adams and the Congress

Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve John Adams

Till Then John and Abigail Adams

Scene 2 The Mall

The Lees of Old Virginia Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

Scene 3 The Chamber

But, Mr. Adams John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston

Scene 4 Thomas Jefferson's Room on High Street

Yours, Yours, Yours John and Abigail Adams

He Plays the Violin Martha Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

Scene 5 The Chamber

Cool, Cool Considerate Men John Dickinson, Edward Rutledge, Lyman Hall, Joseph Hewes, Robert Livingston, Lewis Morris, George Read and James Wilson

Momma, Look Sharp Courier, Andrew McNair and Leather Apron


Scene 6 A Congressional Anteroom

The Egg Benjamin Franklin, John Adams

Scene 7 The Chamber

Molasses to Rum Edward Rutledge

Compliments Abigail Adams

Is Anybody There? John Adams