The new, non-traditionally cast, “diversity”-pandering revival of “1776” is about to open on Broadway. Ethics Alarms already discussed it here: the production seems like a cynical, misguided, truly terrible idea that is likely to crash and burn, but as I wrote last month, “I hope the result is brilliant and illuminating.” I also wrote, “What I see, however, is a cynical abortion of a classic musical motivated by arrogance, ignorance, and greed.” In other words, the thing has a lot of self-inflicted problems standing in the way of critical and financial success, nicely symbolized by the photo above of an Asian-American woman playing slaveholding Continental Congress member Edward Rutledge singing “Molasses to Rum to Slaves” in the musical’s most dramatic scene. As a stage director and American history fanatic, I don’t see how having that song performed by someone who can’t evoke Rutledge in any way does anything but undermine the best song in the show. But hey, you never know.
One thing the radical production doesn’t need, however, is for that same performer to trash the production publicly. Here is “Rutledge,” Sara Porkalob, in an interview with Vulture’s Jason P. Frank:
“To me, the play is a relic. It is a dusty, old thing… On the inside, I’m cringing… I’m like, It’s okay. I wouldn’t have wanted it this way, but I am doing my job….[The direction] is horrible. I hate it… What I want to do with my time is make new works with collaborators…I feel like I’m going to work.”