1776, Hamilton, and the American Experiment
By Sam Perwin
It's a really good time to be both an American History buff and a musical theater nerd. The runaway success of a little musical called Hamilton has re-introduced the idea to an entire new generation that our founding fathers weren't perfect, all-knowing demi-gods, but rather complex, flawed men who did the best they could to create a country under impossible circumstances. Of course, the original broadway musical to dramatize the proceedings of the continental congress (a hefty feat in and of itself) was 1776, which also won the Tony for best musical back in 1969. In it, we get to see the frustration of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin as they struggle to convince the rest of the colonies to vote unanimously to declare independence from Britain. Fortunately, we all know how it turns out. We also get to see these men bicker, fume, drink, swear, complain about not getting to have sex with their wives, protect their own interests, and, in short, behave like humans. It's a fascinating portrait, if not always a dramatically compelling one. 1776, as much as I love it, suffers from a glut of book scenes, many of which do nothing but complain about how nothing is happening.