Raise the flag, and cue the band, for ‘1776’

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Heidi Bass-Lamberto loves history.

And she loves the time period of the American Revolution.

She has the perfect vehicle to pursue these twin loves as director of Southington Community Theatre’s production of the musical, “1776.”

The musical follows the men who led the way toward the creation of the United States and the troubles—external and internal— they faced as they carved out the Declaration of Independence.

Bass-Lamberto said she is drawn to the broader subject of history because, “I think in order for us to make sure our future is better, we have to understand the past… You should learn from your mistakes.”

And regarding the more specific time period of The American Revolution—and the setting for “1776” — Bass-Lamberto this moment in history is exciting to her because it was “the start of our nation… It was the first time we were called the United States of America.”

Also, Bass-Lamberto said the time period provides some perspective on currentevents. “We always had conflicts, differences of opinions, and opinions we had to overcome.” But in the end, she explained, everyone always realizes, despite the divides, everyone is still an American.

The first time Bass-Lamberto saw the musical “1776,” with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone, she said it “solidified my love for history and my desire to be a teacher and to be in theater.”

As a teacher, Bass-Lamberto noted that “1776” is historically accurate. And the creators include facts that aren’t typically included in the history books, she said. The musical truthfully depicts “the pain and agony and the challenges” that went into writing the document that separated us from England.

The story of the Declaration of Independence and the musical “1776” is heavily male-centric, requiring a cast of essentially 22 lead male actors, said Bass-Lamberto. Each of the performers also not only has to be able to act, but they all have to be able to sing. And this proved to be one of the biggest challenges for Southington Community Theatre as it cast the show.

In the end, however, Bass-Lamberto said, “I did it. I’m really proud of them (the cast).”

(Albeit, she said, she did cast two women in male roles despite her initial hesitation to take that route. However, the two actors eased her concerns. “They are doing a great job.”)

“It’s a crazy cast of awesome,” said Bass-Lamberto of the men and women in this Southington Community Theatre production.

Some cast members were already familiar with the show and the stories, said Bass-Lamberto. (There are several educators in the cast and a couple of students majoring in political science.) But for others, the show and its tale was a new experience. “They fell in love with (it).”

Many of the actors who were newly exposed to the show, took the extra effort to research their roles. This helped them connect to their characters.

Audiences will enjoy “1776,” said Bass-Lamberto because it “will help spark your patriotism. It will remind you why it’s pretty special to live in America.”

“There are parts where you take a breath because it’s uncomfortable,” said Bass-Lamberto. “But it’s reality.”

The musical also will remind audiences of some of the lighter moments of the move for independence. Audiences will understand the myriad of personalities that helped form the nation, she said. They also will learn little tidbits such as to why the national symbol is the eagle and not the turkey.

In the end, Bass-Lamberto said audiences will learn “these were real men and real women” not just notes in a history book.

“It’s a great night of family entertainment,”  said Bass-Lamberto.

Southington Community Theatre will present on June 23, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. at DePaolo Middle School, 385 Pleasant St., Southington. Tickets are $15 (in advance and at the door). Tickets are available at Just For You Gift Shoppe, 979 Meriden-Waterbury Road, Plantsville, The Music Shop, 405 Queen Street, Southington, Southington Domino’s, 200 Main St., Southington, and at the door. Tickets are also available online via Brown Paper Tickets (http://m.bpt.me/event/2555620).

For more information, visit www.southingtoncommunitytheatre.org, email southingtoncommunitytheatre@gmail.com or call (860)877-2842.

The Southington Community Theatre cast for ‘1776,’ which will be performed this weekend.

The Southington Community Theatre cast for ‘1776,’ which will be performed this weekend.