Iconic Broadway musical 1776 returns with women, trans and non-binary actors as US founding fathers

The cast of 1776 during the trailer for the A.R.T limited performance.

The musical 1776 is marching back to Broadway with a modern twist that will see all the forefathers played by women, trans, and non-binary actors.

1776 – which details the American forefathers’ story in writing the Declaration of Independence – is to return after a 25 year absence from the stage, with a set of previews starting on 16 September at the Roundabout Theatre in New York City.

Co-directed by Diane Paulus and Jeffrey L. Page, the new production takes an excitingly queer approach to the fabled history of the American Revolution.

Crystal Lucas-Perry will star as American founding father John Adams, who attempts to convince Congress to declare independence from the British. Cast choices also includes Gisela Adisa as Robert Livingston, Nancy Anderson as George Read, Becca Ayers as colonel Thomas McKean and Tiffani Barbour as Andrew McNair.

The adaptation was originally revealed in early 2020 and was set to open in spring 2021, according to an article by Playbill. 

At the time of the initial reveal, Roundabout Theatre artistic director and CEO Todd Haimes said: “I have enormous respect for Diane Paulus and very much look forward to collaborating with her on 1776, which is an important part of Roundabout’s musical history on Broadway.”

1776’s original 1969 version ran for 1,217 performances and won three Tony Awards including Best Musical. It was eventually adapted into a film directed by Peter H. Hunt in 1972.

The original 1969 music by Sherman Edwards is to make its return during the production, with the book by playwright Peter Stone serving as its inspiration.

It will also feature choreography by Jeffrey L. Page, music supervision by David Chase, orchestrations by John Clancy, vocal design by AnnMarie Milazzo, set design from Scott Pask, costumes from Emilio Sosa, sound design from Jonathan Dean, and associate direction from Brisa Areli Muñoz.

Official openings start on 6 October at the American Airlines Theatre, after its limited engagement at the A.R.T in Massachusetts. A national tour begins in February 2023.

Roundabout was the only theatre to have produced a revival of the musical by 1997, with Star Trek’s Brent Spiner playing John Adams and Pat Hingle as Benjamin Franklin. Various elements of the musical were reenacted during the 2016 concert series of Encores! which aims to perform rarely heard musicals, but very few of the 1997 cast returned.