Published online May 4, 2019

The Second Continental Congress debates American Independence in South Valley Civic Theatre’s “1776: The Musical,” which runs until May 12. Photo Courtesy Elizabeth Mandel

South Valley Civic Theatre’s latest production, “1776: the Musical” opens with John Adams ( well played by Peter Mandel) spouting off with frustrated indignation that “one useless man is called a disgrace, two are called a law firm- and three or more became a Congress.” From that point on we are transported to a hot sticky, fly ridden State Hall now known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the second Continental Congress is debating whether to declare independence from England.

2019_1776_calendarIntellectual and diplomatic Benjamin Franklin (Jon Reed ) and an obnoxious John Adams convince a reluctant Thomas Jefferson (Michael Lee Lund) to write the Declaration. As we all know the rest is “history.” These brave enlightened men gave us our freedom while giving up their families, their lives, fortunes and properties with their signature on the Declaration of Independence, the historic document we are trying to somehow keep in place today.

Colleen Blanchard directs this huge cast, all who are on stage for most of the performance. Not an easy job, which she handled with a fine aptitude. Terry Sodergren leads a well coordinated orchestra. Songs were few and far between that usually brought a point home. Chorography was humorously slipped in here and there with the cast delivering clever coordinated routines by Christine Carrillo. I haven’t noted individuals, since the cast is huge and all are super in their roles.

The last song at the end of the first act is “Momma, Look Sharp” and it’s sung by an exhausted, depressed courier gave a deeply touching moment.

Sherman Edwards created the music and lyrics with the book by Peter Stone. It opened on Broadway in March of 1960 and won five Tony nominations winning three, which included the Tony for Best Musical. It was made into a movie in 1972 and was revived on Broadway in 1997.

SVCT’s “1776” is entertaining and gives us moments of thoughts as to how close are we to those politically agitated old days to-day.


“1776: The Musical”

Produced by The South Valley Civic Theatre

Where: Morgan Hill Community Playhouse and 5th and Montgomery Streets, Morgan Hill

Running Time: 2 hours thirty minutes with one fifteen minute intermission

Runs weekends through May 12 – evening and matinee performances.

For tickets and information visit:

Tickets can also be purchased at the door on a space availability basis.

Camille Bounds

Theater Columnist at Gilroy Life
Camille Bounds is the theater columnist for the Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy LIfe newspapers. She has performed on Broadway and traveled around the world. She can be reached at: bounds17@gmail,com
Camille Bounds