For Broadway’s ‘1776’ Revival, the Drama Is Offstage, Even at the Box Office
The 1776 revival of the 18-year-old National Tour of George Bernard Shaw’s classic play opened on Broadway on Sept. 8, 2016, and will remain there through at least March, as the producers search for a new production.
The play’s Broadway opening marked the second time The American Theatre Wing (ATW) had played host to Shaw’s play, the first being a production in San Francisco in 1971. Shaw himself directed the San Francisco production, as did director Michael Mayer.
According to Playbill, the production at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in Manhattan marks the return on Broadway of some 25 of Shaw’s plays. The 1776 revival features a cast that includes some of Shaw’s old friends, such as Christopher Plummer as George Washington, Robert Morse as John Adams, and Annaleigh Ashford as Abigail Adams.
Shaw’s play will be reworked for the Broadway revival, with the playwright going to the National Theater, and the staging will be overseen by Paul Shapero, long-time Shaw collaborator now working at the Public Theater.
“It’s going to feel radically different,” said playwright Paul Rudnick, who also penned the screenplay. “In my reworking of the play to do the Broadway production, I’m going to have to do a much closer adaptation of the play that takes advantage of all of the visual and theatrical elements of the play.”
The production has a history, as Shaw wrote the play at the National Theater in Washington as part of the first season of what would become the Theatre Guild. He had a great deal of input in the production. Rudnick and actor Robert Morse (who plays John Adams) have worked on it in the past, and now they’ll have a chance to go into its revised form.
The play will also have a new title, 1776: A Play with Music—a nod to the musical score that plays a lot in the play