Roger Rees, Orson Bean, Marcia Mitzman Gavin, Thomas Ian Griffith and John Scherer end their run as the founding fathers (and mother) of the United States in the Los Angeles Reprise! revival of 1776 Sept. 16 at the Freud Playhouse. The Sherman Edwards-Peter Stone musical opens the popular musical staged-reading series, akin to New York City's Encores!.
Rees made his Broadway splash as Nicholas Nickleby in the Royal Shakespeare Company's mounting of The Life and Times of Nicholas Nickleby, winning the Olivier and Tony Awards. Since then, he has returned to the New York stage, most recently as Astrov in the Roundabout revival of Uncle Vanya and opposite Uma Thurman in The Misanthrope. As a director, Rees helmed the Old Globe's staging of The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1999, Love's Labour's Lost in 2000 and Williamstown Theatre Festival's The Rivals and The Taming of the Shrew. Rees stars as John Adams.
Bean, who plays Benjamin Franklin, has had a long television career ("Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman," "The Tonight Show") and movie career ("Being John Malkovitch"), but he did some musical theatre in the 1960's, recording Subways Are for Sleeping, Illya Darling and a 1966 studio cast of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Gavin, who plays Abigail Adams, was Tony-nominated as Mrs. Walker in The Who's Tommy and starred as Mother in the Los Angeles company of Ragtime.
Griffith, who plays Thomas Jefferson, came to TV attention as Rock Hudson in the ABC television movie "Rock Hudson." Since then he has starred in "Excessive Force," "Behind Enemy Lines," "The Secret of Giving" and "Avalanche."
Scherer comes to 1776 directly from the Los Angeles production of the new mini-musicals 3hree (he was also featured in the show's original cast and on the recording). Other credits include Betie Wooster in By Jeeves and Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard on Broadway. 1776, recently revived on Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company with Brent Spiner, is the story of the signing of the Declaration of Independence with Founding Fathers John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson as leading characters. The score includes "Sit Down, John," "The Lees of Old Virginia," "He Plays the Violin," "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men," "Momma, Look Sharp," "Molasses to Rum" and "Is There Anybody There?."
1776 began performances Sept. 4. Tickets are $55. The Freud Playhouse is located in UCLA's Macgowan Hall. Call (310) 825-2101 or Ticketmaster Fine Arts Line for information.
— By Christine Ehren