By Richard Dolce
Last week, the Tony-Award winning musical “1776” opened at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport Village. To find out more about the production, we caught up with Jamie LaVerdiere, who plays founding father John Adams.
LaVerdiere has appeared on Broadway in “The Producers,” “Pirate Queen” and “Motown,” as well as in the national tours of “Motown” and “Urinetown,” and always wanted to be an actor. However, growing up in DuBois, Pennsylvania, he always thought he would transition into acting “after playing running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Jamie is no stranger to the Engeman stage. Last fall, he appeared in comedy “The Cottage,” alongside his wife Christiane Noll. The two also appeared together in a 2014 production of “1776” at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts, though their characters did not have any overlap, with LaVerdiere playing South Carolina delegate Edward Rutledge and Noll playing John Adams’ wife, Abigail Adams.
Though this is not his first time appearing in “1776,” he said that, in playing the verbose and passionate John Adams, “The only struggle has been getting my mouth around all the verbiage. The writing is so remarkable and the show is incredibly constructed. It’s a dream. I love coming to work.”
While it first premiered on Broadway in 1969, the issues and message of “1776” remain very relevant today.
“In an election year, it’s an especially pertinent reminder of all the sacrifice that went into the creation of this country,” LaVerdiere said. “Ben Franklin has a speech in act two that should be delivered daily on the floor of the House and Senate.”
For all its serious moments, the script is fast-paced and full of comedy.
“The writing is so good that it pulls you right along,” said LaVerdiere. He also shared that the most fun part of the creative process was the first day of tech rehearsals at the theater. “Get a bunch of funny people sitting in chairs all day and silliness will ensue.”
“1776” will play the following performance schedule: Thursdays at 8 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Some Wednesday and Sunday evening show times are also available. Tickets are $76 on Saturday evenings, and $71 for all other performances. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 631-261-2900, by logging on to Engemantheater.com or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main St. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are accepted.
Richard Dolce is the producing artistic director at John W. Engeman Theater at Northport.