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APR 15 - MAY 17, 2009

Paper Mill Theatre, Millburn, NJ

Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Book by Peter Stone
Based on a concept by Sherman Edwards
Original Production Directed by Peter Hunt
Originally Produced on the Broadway Stage by Stuart Ostrow

Reviews and Photos

 

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He's played his share of bad guys, but no matter which he's played, he's emerged as New Jersey's favorite leading man.  

He's Robert Cuccioli, and at the Paper Mill Playhouse, he's played the creepy Jud Fry in "Oklahoma," shady gambler Sky Masterson in "Guys and Dolls" and gangster King Marchan in "Victor/Victoria." Not to mention that at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, he played one of the ultimate bad guys in dramatic literature -- Macbeth.

Now Robert Cuccioli returns to the Paper Mill Playhouse to play another bad guy: A member of congress. Not the United States Congress -- not quite -- but the Continental Congress that was meeting in Philadelphia in 1776.

"1776" is the name of the show, and Cuccioli is playing Pennsylvania delegate John Dicksinson, easily the most vociferous opponent of American independence. He continually battles with John Adams, and gives some very good reasons why the 13 colonies should not break with Britain: "No army, no navy, no ammunition, no treasury," he declares.

What's more, Dickinson is also the delegate who demands that all 13 colonies be unanimous in voting for independence -- just so he can always vote against it and keep it from happening. On June 28, 1776, he's managed to keep six of the 13 colonies on his side. To find how the Declaration of Independence gets those last six to come around, you'll have to wait until the show opens April 14.

 -- Peter Filichia/For The Star-Ledger

Where: Paper Mill Playhouse, 3 Brookside Drive, Millburn. When: April 14-May 17. Performances Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays 2 and 7:30 p.m., Fridays 8 p.m., Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m., Sundays 2 and 7:30 p.m. How much: $25-$92. Call (973) 376-4343 or visit papermill.org.

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The pivotal event in American history blazes to vivid life in this most unconventional of Broadway hits. It's the summer of 1776, and the nation is ready to declare independence... if only our founding fathers can agree to do it!

1776 follows John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Richard Henry Lee and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia as they attempt to convince the members of the second Continental Congress to vote for independence from the shackles of the British monarchy by signing the Declaration of Independence.

A musical about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, 1776 puts a human face on the pages of history as we see the men behind the national icons: proud, frightened, uncertain, irritable, charming, often petty and ultimately noble figures determined to do the right thing for a fledgling nation.

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Playbill Article