It's been more than 240 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but we don't seem as far removed from the concerns of that instrumental period in U.S. history — a land in upheaval, delegates looking for a way to establish and uphold freedom in their country.
Then it's only fitting that the latest show in Ovation Theatre's lineup is "1776," the musical tale of the time leading up the Founding Fathers' signing of the document.
Director Maria-Tania Bandes Becerra Weingarden said Hal Friedman, one of Ovation's founders, brought this show to her.
"This was originally his vision and he sold me on it by stressing how timely it was," she said. "Our country is going through a lot right now — and this play reminds us how sacred the Declaration of Independence is ... and that it is relevant for all of us ... men, women, black, white and everything in between."
Reflecting a more modern look at the quest for independence, the cast is all women, including Kat Clowes as John Adams, Rene Cleek as Benjamin Franklin and Kelsea Johnson as Thomas Jefferson.
The casting allows the universality of the message to come through.
"By having the story told with women, diverse women actually, it reminds us that these words were originally meant for all of us," the director said. "It takes away the exclusivity of the matter."
And the enthusiasm for the show extends to the performers.
"They are excited to tell this story," Bandes Becerra Weingarden said. "I have a group of intelligent, talented, witty women who are able to take these words and bring them to life with a unique perspective. I love every one of them from Kat Clowes, our John Adams, to the actors with fewer lines, like Danielle Chase. Each one brings so much to the performance."
The director notes a couple of standout numbers — "Molasses to Rum," sung by her wife, Michelle Weingarden Bandes, who plays South Carolina delegate Edward Rutledge and "Is Anybody There," sung by Clowes expressing the moment when Adams is feeling frustrated and defeated — but acknowledges "... honestly, I love all the numbers. It’s so much fun to watch."
Check it out for yourself starting Friday at the 19th Street theater.