Nikki Renée Daniels and André De Shields will star in City Center Encores! highly anticipated production of the revolution based musical 1776.
Originally written in 1969 and revived in 1998, the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award-winning show is based on the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Book of Mormon star Daniels will be taking on the role of Thomas Jefferson’s wife, “Martha Jefferson,” while The Wiz icon, De Shields, will be playing independence advocate “Stephen Hopkins.” Additional casting includes Jubilant Sykes, Terence Archie, John-Michael Lyles, Wayne Pretlow and Nicholas Ward.
The Encores! production of 1776 is just another example of the wave of diversity sweeping through New York’s theater community over the last year. Interestingly, Lin-Manuel Miranda acknowledged being heavily inspired by, and even quoted the classic musical in the non-traditional phenomenon that has become Hamilton. Now, Miranda’s inclination for multi-ethnic casting is providing inspiration of its own.
“We chose to do 1776 in part because of the success of Hamilton,” said Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel. “…Every show that we do at Encores! is set in three periods, really — the present, the era it was written in, and the era it is set in. To do justice to the first, it only seemed logical to celebrate one of the things that has finally taken Broadway by storm, thanks in great part to Hamilton — making the event on stage as diverse as the America we live in.”
Martha Jefferson as a black woman. Thomas definitely never saw that coming. But he probably never considered himself a curly-fro’d rapper either.