Review: 1776 at Chautauqua Playhouse

Musical about the revolution gets a revolutionary interpretation

Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Through July 22; $21-$23; Chautauqua Playhouse in the La Sierra Community Center, 5325 Engle Road in Carmichael; (916) 489-7529;

If women had been allowed to participate in the Continental Congress that brought forth our Declaration of Independence, things might have gone more smoothly. Or maybe not.

At any rate, this musical about the revolution of the American colonies to forge the United States gets a revolutionary interpretation in the Chautauqua Playhouse’s all-female version of 1776.

Rodger Hoopman and Warren Harrison direct the large and talented cast of 18 actors and singers. The story dramatizes the efforts of John Adams (a winning Vicki Fortini) to persuade his colleagues in the Continental Congress to vote for separation from Great Britain and to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Prominent figures include Benjamin Franklin (impressively represented by Ruth Robbins-Phillips), Thomas Jefferson (a subdued Celia Green), John Hancock (Linda Taylor, steady and not nearly as bold as the signature on that historic document) and Richard Henry Lee of Virginia (a strong Erin Renfree, who also plays Abigail Adams).

It’s good to be reminded of what it took to make this country and why it must survive.