Last night, two-time Tony nominee André De Shields completed a limited run of seven performances in the non-traditionally cast role of Stephen Hopkins, delegate from Rhode Island, in the Encores! production of 1776, the classic Tony Award-winning musical about how the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence and gave birth to a new nation. The production at City Center in New York, directed by Garry Hynes, featured choreography by Chris Bailey and guest music direction by Ben Whiteley.
In addition to De Shields, the all-star cast of seasoned Broadway, film and television veterans included Santino Fontana as John Adams (delegate from Massachusetts), John Behlmann as Thomas Jefferson (delegate from Virginia), John Larroquette as Benjamin Franklin (delegate from Pennsylvania), Bryce Pinkham as John Dickinson (delegate from Pennsylvania), Nikki Renée Daniels as Martha Jefferson, Christiane Noll as Abigail Adams, Michael McCormick as John Hancock, Alexander Gemignani as Edward Rutledge (delegate from South Carolina), Robert Sella as Charles Thomson (Secretary), and Jubilant Sykes as Richard Henry Lee (delegate from Virginia).
The cast also featured Wayne Pretlow as Roger Sherman (delegate from Connecticut), Terence Archie as Dr. Josiah Bartlett (delegate from New Hampshire), Larry Bull as Col. Thomas McKean (delegate from Delaware), Macintyre Dixon as Andrew McNair (Custodian), John Hickok as Dr. Lyman Hall (delegate from Georgia), John Hillner as Lewis Morris (delegate from New York), Kevin Ligon as George Read (delegate from Delaware), John-Michael Lyles ( A Courier), Laird Mackintosh as Judge James Wilson (delegate from Pennsylvania), Michael Medeiros as Caesar Rodney (delegate from Delaware), Tom Alan Robbins as Rev. Jonathan Witherspoon (delegate from New Jersey), Ric Stoneback as Samuel Chase (delegate from Maryland), Vishal Vaidya (A Leather Apron), Nicholas Ward as Joseph Hewes (delegate from North Carolina) , and Jacob Keith Watson as Robert Livingston (delegate from New York).
1776 features such beloved songs as “Sit Down, John,” “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men,” and “He Plays the Violin.” Written by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone, 1776, directed by Peter Hunt and produced by Stuart Ostrow, opened on Broadway on March 16, 1969, and ran for 1217 performances.
Ann Harada, who appeared with Santino Fontana in Cinderella on Broadway as the delusional stepsister Charlotte and has worked with nine other 1776 cast members in different shows, was in the house to celebrate their final performance at the party on the Grand Tier level of the theater.
John Behlmann (Thomas Jefferson, delegate from Virginia) Broadway: Journey’s End. Off-Broadway: Important Hats… (MTC); Significant Other (Roundabout); Pretty Filthy (The Civilians); The 39 Steps (New World Stages); This Is Not J.A.W.S. (Dixon Place); and Wild Animals You Should Know (MCC). Ars Nova: Eager to Lose and Trapeze Hero! (ANT Fest 2013). Regional: Bull Durham (Alliance). Film: The Wolf of Wall Street and Revolutionary Road. TV: “I Shudder” (upcoming), “Blue Bloods,” “The Good Wife,” and “3 lbs.” Mr. Behlmann runs the trapeze theater company Fight or Flight. Training: NTC and Wesleyan.
Nikki Renée Daniels (Martha Jefferson) is currently appearing on Broadway as Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon. Other Broadway credits include The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Clara); Les Misérables (Fantine); Promises, Promises; and Anything Goes. TV/Film: “Chappelle’s Show,” The Other Woman, and “The Sound of Music Live!” City Center Encores!: The Apple Tree. Ms. Daniels has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall and with symphony orchestras across the country. Her debut solo CD Home is available on iTunes and CDbaby.
André De Shields (Stephen Hopkins, delegate from Rhode Island) has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator in a career spanning 47 years. He has received the National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. A multiple Tony Award nominee, Mr. De Shields is best known for his show-stopping performances in six legendary Broadway productions: Impressionism, Prymate, The Full Monty, Play On!, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and The Wiz.
Santino Fontana (John Adams, delegate from Massachusetts) City Center Encores!: Zorba! and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (upcoming). Broadway: Act One, Cinderella (Tony Award nomination), The Importance of Being Earnest (Clarence Derwent Award), Billy Elliot, Brighton Beach Memoirs (Drama Desk Award), and Sunday in the Park with George. New York theater: Sons of the Prophet (Lortel and Obie Awards), The Fantasticks, and Perfect Harmony (co-writer). Regional: Six Degrees of Separation, Death of a Salesman, A Christmas Carol, As You Like It, Hamlet (Guthrie); Love’s Labour’s Lost, On the Verge, September 11th Project (Chautauqua Theater Co.) Film: Sisters; Frozen; Nancy, Please; and Jack Ryan: Shadow Hunter. TV: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Shades of Blue,” “The Good Wife,” “The Money,” “Royal Pains,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “Made in Jersey.”
John Larroquette (Benjamin Franklin, delegate from Pennsylvania), a five-time Emmy winner, has been a strong force in the television industry since 1975. Mr. Larroquette is best known for his role as Assistant District Attorney Dan Fielding on NBC’s “Night Court,” along with his comedic lead role in “The John Larroquette Show.” On the big screen, Larroquette starred in Richie Rich opposite Macaulay Culkin. He has also appeared on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Theatre World Award) and Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.
Christiane Noll (Abigail Adams) received Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for her performance as Mother in the 2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime. Broadway/tour: Chaplin, Jekyll & Hyde, Urinetown, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, Miss Saigon, and City of Angels. Film/TV: “The Sound of Music Live!” and The King and I (singing Anna). City Center Encores!: Out Of This World and The New Moon. Other theater: Kid Victory (Signature) and Closer Than Ever (The York). She has performed at the Washington National Opera with Placido Domingo; in symphony concerts internationally and in all 50 states; and in Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series.
Bryce Pinkham (John Dickinson, delegate from Pennsylvania) Broadway: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder (Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), The Heidi Chronicles (Drama League Award nomination), Ghost, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Off-Broadway: Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare in the Park) and The Orphans’ Home Cycle (Signature). TV: “The Good Wife” and “Person of Interest.” Film: The Comedian (with Robert De Niro, upcoming). Bryce is a proud Annenberg Fellow and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. He is the co-founder of Zara Aina, a charity for at-risk children in Madagascar.
Click here to read more about The Legacy of 1776.
De Shields is already in Washington D.C. at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, where he is in rehearsal for The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, featuring an all-male cast and directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, May 17 — Jun 26.
André De Shields, John Behlmann, Nikki Renée Daniels, Santino Fontana, Alexander Gemignani, John Larroquette, Christiane Noll, Bryce Pinkham, Jubilant Sykes, and more will star in the Encores! production of 1776, directed by Garry Hynes, Mar 30—Apr 3
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at Asians on Film on March 10th, The Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia on March 13th and the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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