After tackling Hair (a production now going through "on again, off again" transfer trials), Los Angeles' Reprise! series will produce the musical that beat the rock opera for the Best Musical Tony in 1969 - 1776. Roger Rees, Orson Bean and Marcia Mitzman Gavin will star in the Sherman Edwards-Peter Stone musical.
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.
Bean, who will play 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 will play Abigail Adams, was Tony-nominated as Mrs. Walker in The Who's Tommy and starred as Mother in the Los Angeles company of Ragtime.
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?."
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