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Founding Fathers sing their way through revolution in CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s ‘1776'

SHARE Founding Fathers sing their way through revolution in CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s ‘1776'

The cast and crew of CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s patriotic musical “1776” are trying to send a message.

It’s not a political message — not exactly. But the cast is trying to pull some parallels between the musical’s revolutionary setting and today’s political environment.

“I’m not sure that we’ve ever been as divided as we are now, other than the Civil War period and the time period shown in our play,” said Joshua Curtis, the play’s resident historical expert and a history teacher at Layton’s Utah Military Academy. “Educated, brilliant men strongly disagreed. Our presidents would stick fight. They’d go at each other. But they found a way to find common ground and make compromises and do what was best for the country.”

The War for Independence may be long over, but play director Josh Richardson said he hopes audiences will leave with the desire for greater national unity and collaboration.

“Even though we can be diametrically opposed on a topic, that doesn’t mean the other side is evil or wrong,” Richardson said. “It just means we have different viewpoints. And that we can talk and come together to cooperate and put party politics aside. … If our audiences walk away going, ‘We need more cooperation like that,’ then I think we’ll have accomplished our job.”

For Richardson and Curtis, the cast’s job involves both entertaining and educating attendees. The musical takes several artistic liberties, but Richardson made sure every actor was sufficiently educated about his or her character’s history before beginning rehearsals.

“We assigned everyone a partner to research their characters and do a little five-minute presentation,” Curtis said. “Our Martha Jefferson was probably the most lively, but the guy who presented (Scottish Col. Thomas McKean) actually had written a parody to the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ rap. I mean, ‘In West Philadelphia born and raised, fightin’ British power for the most of my days …’ It was hysterical.”

The actors also practiced making their unscripted behaviors more historically accurate. They learned to eliminate modern filler phrases like “yeah” and “OK” from their vocabulary, and worked on sitting, speaking and even walking properly.

Audiences, Curtis said, will leave with greater appreciation for the country’s founders.

“Expect to be thoroughly entertained, and hopefully, thoroughly educated,” Richardson added. “I hope people walk out of the theater loving their country … and taking care of each other a little bit more.”

Content advisory:“1776” contains some mild adult language and adult themes, including references to alcohol, spousal relationships, mild vulgarity, slavery and war casualties.

If you go …

What: “1776” the Musical

Where: CenterPoint Legacy Theatre, 525 North 400 West, Centerville

When: June 16-July 15, Monday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., some Saturday matinees available

How much: $12-$25.50

Phone: 801-298-1302

Web: www.centerpointtheatre.org