1776: the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the birthing of America, and a musical. These three things came to life Sunday, September 25 as the Mad Cow Theatre in downtown Orlando continued their installment of 1776. In typical Mad Cow fashion, 1776 was a classic put on with a twist.
In a depiction of a time when men were the only ones allowed in the room to decide the fate of this new country, Mad Cow Theatre shunted the patriarchy with an all-female cast. The cast which graced the stage included actresses of color, the most memorable of whom being Ms. Lulu Picart, who portrayed Edward Rutledge of South Carolina.
Rutledge was the man who led the debate to remove Thomas Jefferson’s section of the Declaration that would set out to abolish slavery; in a subversive move, audiences watched Picart, a woman of color, portray a man who fought to maintain slavery’s staple in America.
Bold actions like this met with the women’s ability to maintain their femininity while portraying men to make Mad Cow’s rendition of 1776 a powerful one.
From the opening piece, “For God’s Sake, John, Sit Down,” to the final song, “Is Anybody There?,” the women’s voices rang out. Passionate encounters between John and Abigail Adams and the anger behind Rutledge’s “Molasses to Rum” sent out powerful vocals that echoed throughout the theatre. Through this stunning performance, the clacking of heels and the occasionally effeminate clothing did not make me question the masculinity of the characters portrayed before me. Not for a moment did I feel that Laura Hoods’ John Adams lacked outspokenness; not once did I question that Melissa Whitworth’s Thomas Jefferson and Ms. Jennafer Newberry’s Martha Jefferson were in love.
The passion, the devotion, the power displayed on stage: all of this captivated me, bringing me into a show that I entered with skepticism. When I arrived, I wondered how an all-female cast would work to depict the overwhelmingly male narrative of America’s beginnings. But they worked well, and the show excelled. Mad Cow Theatre’s 1776 soared, and it will continue to with each show until final bows on October 23.
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