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1776: A Musical Play (Penguin Plays) Paperback – November 18, 1976

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Plays
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 18, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140481397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140481396
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Heather L. Fairfield on April 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Peter Stone's play "1776", is not only a wonderfully entertaining piece of musical theatre, containing great songs and dialogue (often with a healthy amount of wit), it is also historically accurate. The story centers around the Second Continental Congress in Philidelphia (most notably John Adams), in the months immediately prior to the signing of The Declaration of Independence. One of the things that impressed me most about this play was that when writing dialogue between Congress members, letters from Gen. Washington, and conversations between Adams and his wife, Stone reviewed historical documents. Thus, many exchanges you hear/read throughout the play were actual conversations or letters written by those people. Therefore, the play is not only entertaining, it's educational. This play allows you to better understand the people who fought so hard to secure American independence. So often we revere our forefathers with such a sense of awe that we forget their basic humanity. Stone does a wonderful job of reminding us all that these were simple men and women, with everyday hopes and dreams, who were also willing to risk their lives for the freedom that they sought. I think that this play ought to be performed for every school in America -- it teaches while it entertains!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Every 4th of July I watch the restored laser disc edition of "1776," the musical that has our Founding Fathers singing and dancing their way to Independency, and every time John and Abigail Adams sing goodbye to each other ("Till Then" and "Yours, Yours, Yours"), I get absolutely choked up (to be fair, I get absolutely choked up when I listen to either the original Broadway cast with William Daniels as John Adams or the revival cast with Brent Spiner in the role). But as much as I enjoy the songs, from "Sit Down, John" to "Is Anybody There?", what I admire is the way Peter Stone's book tells the story of what happened in foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadelphia.

Granted this is drama and not history. A historian would point to a big error in that John Dickinson did not show up the day of the crucial vote so that Pennsylvania would not kill independence. But Stone lays out the positions of those who oppose independence, not only Dickinson but Edmund Rutledge of South Carolina, who wants independence but sees it as independence for South Carolina. Consequently, even though we know that these men are going to sign their John Hancocks to the Declaration we still wonder how it will happen given the obstacles. The biggest one is slavery, and while the song "Molasses To Rum" captures the Triangle Trade, it is the debate between Rutledge on the one side and Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin on the other that is even more memorable as the Founding Fathers discuss the difference between "property" and "people being treated like property.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John Lanning on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
1776 is a very special play. It portrays true historical magic. I especially liked the play because of the character development. I liked how Peter Stone, the author, developed John Adams character. Stone portrayed Adams as an egotistical jerk who would not take no for an answer. The ironic thing was that his unwillingness to quit was the key to winning our independence.
I am especially involved in the study of history. The play was actually quite accurate except for all the singing and dancing which was added for theatrical purposes. The play had great lyrics and music. Not only was the book version well done the movie was also excellent. The movie stayed word for word with the book.
This play attracted my attention to a specific theme. When John Adams was desperate and discouraged he did not give up. He kept on pushing and pushing untill he had the outcome he wanted. A major theme of this novel would have to be to not give up when faced with tremendous odds. If John Adams had given up then we would most likely still be under British rule.
This play should definitly be read by all u.s. history classes. It inspires patriotism just at the mention of the title. This play is a great source and accurate account of exactly how this great nation became so great. A truly outstanding book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Haspel on August 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Seeing Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards's play "1776" on a stage, or on the movie screen, is in a way easier; reading the play *as a play* is more complex. One loses Sherman Edwards's music when all one has is printed words on a page. But Peter Stone's dialogue is just as trenchant; the diligent research that Stone and Edwards did pays off, as the authors effectively dramatize the Second Continental Congress's 1776 deliberations upon the subject of an American Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

Stone and Edwards create a colonial Philadelphia populated with characters who are quarrelsome, bawdy, fun-loving -- as far as one can get from the marble monuments in Statuary Hall. Whenever I read "1776," my sense that it is truly John Adams's story is reinforced; while Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson share a great deal of time on stage with Adams, John Adams and his wife Abigail are the only characters (aside from Martha Jefferson) who are referred to in the play's stage directions by their first names. It is always "John," and "Abigail," in contrast with "Franklin" and "Jefferson."

Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson all come to vivid life in this play. Adams combines a core of moral rectitude and integrity with a famously prickly personality; he refers to himself, and is referred to by almost every other character in the play, as "obnoxious and disliked." Franklin is avuncular, humorous, acutely conscious of his own celebrity -- if someone doesn't recognize him, he'll quickly introduce himself as "inventor of the stove" -- but he can turn deadly serious when occasion warrants. And Jefferson is self-effacing, modest to a fault, but possessed of talents and convictions that will make themselves apparent in due time.

The sources of drama in "1776" are twofold.
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