It's all about life, liberty and the pursuit of theater magic as the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center presents the Tony Award-winning musical 1776 this weekend and next. The production, directed by Pinellas Park Middle School teacher Rick Hite, features a cast of 22 men and two women.
Getting so many guys to audition for a musical comedy is a feat in itself, but Hite said he was surprised at the strong response from male actors in the community.
"This is a special show," Hite said. "Guys like it because it's a good way to show off their talent and they appreciate its historical nature, too."
The kids should enjoy it as well. It's easy to spoon down some history lessons when they're coated in music, dance and funny lines.
The musical by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone showcases the plight of Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who are trying to convince the Second Continental Congress that freedom from England is the way to go.
But it's not as easy as it sounds.
There are issues about slavery that need to be addressed.
George Washington is issuing ominous dispatches from the battlefield.
And they could all be hanged for treason.
Franklin (George Hook) likes to nap during debates, while Jefferson (John Nelligan) is having troubling penning the Declaration of Independence because he so misses his wife, Martha (Amy Ludkiewicz).
Rick Bronson stars as John Adams, who writes many letters to his wife, Abigail (Joanne Hite), pledging his love and begging her to send more saltpeter.
Despite all the distractions and disagreements — even a physical scuffle on the floor of Congress — the delegates continue to push and push.
In the end, America is born.
With all the political divisiveness going on these days, it may be refreshing to turn off the tube and see what the original liberals and conservatives bickered about.
"You won't see George Washington chopping down a cherry tree or Benjamin Franklin flying a kite," Hite said. "This is about the commitment of our Founding Fathers to better the Colonies. England was screwing us over and the odds were against us."