Friday, April 13, 2012

1776 at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC

1776 is one of my favorite musicals. I had a childhood friend who introduced me to it, and basically it's been watched a lot of times since. We watch it every Fourth of July. I know pretty much all the lyrics and the dialogue.  (An aside - it's actually fairly historically accurate as a lot of the lyrics are taken from actual letters. Near as I can tell, John Wilson's character was completely made up. He doesn't seem to gel with the real guy at all, which makes me feel a bit bad for him.)

Doug got us tickets to see it when he saw that it was playing at Ford's Theatre, which we'd never been to.  On the night we picked, they had front row seats available. I did some googling and saw that sitting in the front did indeed get a favorable review, so that's what we got. 

I wish we'd had more time to look at the downstairs museum, but we did get to see the gun that shot Lincoln and a bunch of other artifacts. Like John Wilkes Booth's boot, which the doctor had cut open to get his injured foot/ankle  out of it.

Our seats, once we got to them, were terrific.  We had a great view of the pit (something I enjoy, having done pit orchestras before) and the stage and it was almost like the show was being performed just for us.  

Being so close, I also had a great view of the costumes, which (unlike other shows I've seen) were fantastic.  The men's outfits were so well done. I loved that the southern gentleman as well as some of the richer mid-Atlantic ones (like John Dickenson) were made of silk, and the New Englanders were generally in wool or linen.    Edward Rutledge from South Carolina was had green velvet breeches, and embroidered vest, and a gorgeous green silk jacket.  I noticed Lyman Hall of Georgia's coat was lined in a shot blue silk.  All the men wore repro shoes with real pronged buckles. 

The two women in the show I was very pleasantly surprised by - they both appeared to be wearing stays!  They had the appropriate shape and also had bum rolls and/or hip pads.  Abigail had a cute green jacket and striped petticoat and later on, a gorgeous Indienne print gown with a (faux) quilted petticoat.  The fact that the costume designer actually put her in an Indienne print amazed me! Well played, Sir! 

Martha Jefferson wore a gorgeous gold (satin?) gown.  You could tell the garments were theatrical, because you could just make out a zipper - but I can forgive a lot of things if they're fitted properly and have the right shape.  The gold gown was really pretty. She had a pretty pink cloak in her first scene too, which appeared to be a shot taffeta with ruched trim.

Both ladies had repro shoes - and after spending way too much time looking at them, I decided that they had to be American Duchess shoes!  Martha's were pink silk  and I'm pretty sure the top of the tongue is the same shape as the American Duchess shoe.  And there aren't that many (or any other?) dyeable silk options out there!  After decided Martha had to be wearing Lauren's shoes, I checked out Abigail's again - hers were definitely leather, but they were  gray.  I decided she had the leather American Duchess shoes and they painted them.

Both ladies had cute little pinner caps too.

I was just so pleased that the women's costumes were so pretty and appropriate, from head to toe!

The show itself was spectacular. The acting was amazing, the singing was amazing. I loved the set design. And the pit (which was tiny, I think only 8 people) sounded fantastic as well.  I was blown away by how good the whole production was.

I also mouth along (silently, don't worry) to pretty much the entire show. Which apparently the woodwind player noticed.  During intermission (since he was sitting only a few feet from me) he actually asked if I'd been in the show!  Nope, just a fan! Being in the front and having the actors be able to see your reactions was so fun.  I would swear that the messenger who sings the sad "Hey Mama" song was singing it to me!

If you're in the DC area, go see it - it was wonderful!

I found this interview with the costume designer online:

I did find a few pics of the costumes online too - I couldn't find one of Abigail's first costume, but you can see the Indienne print dress and Martha's gold gown.


  1. Ah! You are correct about the shoes! Fords ordered several pairs from us a little while ago. I didn't know the production they would be in, though :-)

    1. I knew it! That's awesome, congrats! I just wish you could see them in the stills!