Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

André De Shields, John Behlmann, Nikki Renée Daniels, Santino Fontana, Alexander Gemignani, John Larroquette, Christiane Noll, Bryce Pinkham, Jubilant Sykes, and more will star in the Encores! production of 1776, directed by Garry Hynes, Mar 30—Apr 3

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel today announced casting for the Encores! production of 1776, the classic Tony Award-winning musical about how the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence and gave birth to a new nation. 1776 will star André De Shields, Terence Archie, John Behlmann, Larry Bull, Nikki Renée Daniels, Macintyre Dixon, Santino Fontana, Alexander Gemignani, John Hickok, John Hillner, John Larroquette, Kevin Ligon, John-Michael Lyles, Laird Mackintosh, Michael McCormick, Michael Medeiros, Christiane Noll, Bryce Pinkham, Wayne Pretlow, Tom Alan Robbins, Robert Sella, Ric Stoneback, Jubilant Sykes, Vishal Vaidya, Nicholas Ward, and Jacob Keith Watson.

Photos: Santino Fontana, André De Shields, John Larroquette, Nikki Renée Daniels, Bryce Pinkham, John Behlmann, Christiane Noll and More in New York City Center’s Encores! 1776 through April 3 

A unique show that presents John Adams (Santino Fontana), Thomas Jefferson (John Behlmann), and Benjamin Franklin (John Larroquette) in all their fractious, fascinating complexity, 1776 features such beloved songs as “Sit Down, John,” “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men,” and “He Plays the Violin.” Written by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone, 1776 opened on Broadway on March 16, 1969, and ran for 1217 performances. The Encores! production will be directed by Garry Hynes, and choreography by Chris Bailey and guest music direction by Ben Whiteley. 1776 will run for seven performances at City Center from March 30—April 3.

Performance Schedule:
Wed and Thu at 7:30pm, Fri at 8pm, Sat at 2 & 8pm, Sun at 2 & 7pm

Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Book by Peter Stone
Based on a Concept by Sherman Edwards
Original Production Directed by Peter Hunt
Originally Produced on the Broadway Stage by Stuart Ostrow

John Behlmann (Thomas Jefferson) Broadway: Journey’s End. Off-Broadway: Important Hats… (MTC); Significant Other (Roundabout); Pretty Filthy (The Civilians); The 39 Steps (New World Stages); This Is Not J.A.W.S. (Dixon Place); and Wild Animals You Should Know (MCC). Ars Nova: Eager to Lose and Trapeze Hero! (ANT Fest 2013). Regional: Bull Durham (Alliance). Film: The Wolf of Wall Street and Revolutionary Road. TV: “I Shudder” (upcoming), “Blue Bloods,” “The Good Wife,” and “3 lbs.” Mr. Behlmann runs the trapeze theater company Fight or Flight. Training: NTC and Wesleyan.

Nikki Renée Daniels (Martha Jefferson) is currently appearing on Broadway as Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon. Other Broadway credits include The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Clara); Les Misérables (Fantine); Promises, Promises; and Anything Goes. TV/Film: “Chappelle’s Show,” The Other Woman, and “The Sound of Music Live!” City Center Encores!: The Apple Tree. Ms. Daniels has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall and with symphony orchestras across the country. Her debut solo CD Home is available on iTunes and CDbaby.

André De Shields (Stephen Hopkins) has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator in a career spanning 47 years. He has received the National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. A multiple Tony Award nominee, Mr. De Shields is best known for his show-stopping performances in six legendary Broadway productions: Impressionism, Prymate, The Full Monty, Play On!, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and The Wiz.

Santino Fontana (John Adams) City Center Encores!: Zorba! and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (upcoming). Broadway: Act One, Cinderella (Tony Award nomination), The Importance of Being Earnest (Clarence Derwent Award), Billy Elliot, Brighton Beach Memoirs (Drama Desk Award), and Sunday in the Park with George. New York theater: Sons of the Prophet (Lortel and Obie Awards), The Fantasticks, and Perfect Harmony (co-writer). Regional: Six Degrees of Separation, Death of a Salesman, A Christmas Carol, As You Like It, Hamlet (Guthrie); Love’s Labour’s Lost, On the Verge, September 11th Project (Chautauqua Theater Co.) Film: Sisters; Frozen; Nancy, Please; and Jack Ryan: Shadow Hunter. TV: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Shades of Blue,” “The Good Wife,” “The Money,” “Royal Pains,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “Made in Jersey.”

Alexander Gemignani (Edward Rutledge) Broadway: Violet (Father), Chicago (Billy Flynn), Les Misérables (Valjean, Drama League Award nomination), Sweeney Todd (Beadle, Drama Desk Award nomination), Assassins (John Hinckley, Theatre World Award), The People in the Picture (Moishe), and Sunday in the Park with George (Boatman/Dennis). Off-Broadway: Road Show at The Public (Addison, Drama League Award nomination), Headstrong at Ensemble Studio Theatre (Nick), and Avenue Q at the Vineyard (Brian). As a composer/lyricist, he is currently developing three new musicals and has composed incidental music for a number of plays. Proud graduate of the University of Michigan.

John Larroquette (Benjamin Franklin), a five-time Emmy winner, has been a strong force in the television industry since 1975. Mr. Larroquette is best known for his role as Assistant District Attorney Dan Fielding on NBC’s “Night Court,” along with his comedic lead role in “The John Larroquette Show.” On the big screen, Larroquette starred in Richie Rich opposite Macaulay Culkin. He has also appeared on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Theatre World Award) and Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.

Christiane Noll (Abigail Adams) received Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for her performance as Mother in the 2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime. Broadway/tour: Chaplin, Jekyll & Hyde, Urinetown, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, Miss Saigon, and City of Angels. Film/TV: “The Sound of Music Live!” and The King and I (singing Anna). City Center Encores!: Out Of This World and The New Moon. Other theater: Kid Victory (Signature) and Closer Than Ever (The York). She has performed at the Washington National Opera with Placido Domingo; in symphony concerts internationally and in all 50 states; and in Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series.

Bryce Pinkham (John Dickinson) Broadway: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder (Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), The Heidi Chronicles (Drama League Award nomination), Ghost, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Off-Broadway: Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare in the Park) and The Orphans’ Home Cycle (Signature). TV: “The Good Wife” and “Person of Interest.” Film: The Comedian (with Robert De Niro, upcoming). Bryce is a proud Annenberg Fellow and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. He is the co-founder of Zara Aina, a charity for at-risk children in Madagascar.

Jubilant Sykes (Richard Henry Lee) is an American baritone whose career has taken him from the Apollo Theater to the Met, from the New Orleans Jazz Festival to Carnegie Hall, and to theaters across the United States and Europe, where he has appeared with such artists as Julie Andrews and Renée Fleming. He starred in Daniel Beaty’s play Breath & Imagination (dir. Darko Tresnjak) at Hartford Stage, and was featured in the Cuba Gooding, Jr. film Freedom. Mr. Sykes is a Grammy Award nominee for his 2008 recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Garry Hynes (Director) was a co-founder of the award-winning Druid Theatre Company. She was Druid’s artistic director from 1975 to 1991, and again from 1995 to present. Ms. Hynes was the artistic director of Abbey Theatre from 1991 to 1994. She has also worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Kennedy Center, the Center Theatre Group, and the Spoleto Festival. Ms. Hynes holds the distinction of being the first female to win a Tony Award for direction of a play.

Ben Whiteley (Guest Music Director) Broadway/national tours: The Addams Family, A Christmas Story, Spamalot, The Full Monty, Cats, Grand Hotel, Falsettos, and Big. Carnegie Hall: Sail Away with Elaine Stritch and Carnegie Hall Salutes Comden and Green. New York Philharmonic: Choral Direction for Carousel (PBS), My Fair Lady. Regional credits include the MUNY, Paper Mill Playhouse, and 5th Avenue Theatre. He has served as Associate Music Director and/or done choral preparation for over 25 Encores! productions, including The Most Happy Fella, Paint Your Wagon, and Merrily We Roll Along. Recordings: Allegro and Boardwalk Empire (Grammy Award).

Chris Bailey (Choreographer) Credits as a choreographer include Assassins (Menier Chocolate
Factory), Cyrano de Bergerac (Roundabout), and Dancing Shadows (Seoul Arts Center). He was associate choreographer for Broadway productions of Promises, Promises; How to Succeed…; Evita; and Cry Baby; and for West End productions of Guys and Dolls, Evita, and Once in a Lifetime. He has been associate Choreographer for the Academy Awards for the last three years, and co-choreographed the 2013 Tony Awards. Film credits include Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and Ted 2.

The 2016 Encores! season is made possible, in part, by Stacey and Eric Mindich, Nathalie and Pablo Salame, The Shubert Foundation, and The Stephanie and Fred Shuman Fund for Encores!. Diversifying 1776: “The Present Doesn’t Look Like a Bunch of White People” Casting Complete for Encores! 1776 Santino Fontana, André De Shields​, John Larroquette to Star in Encores! 1776 Nikki Renee Daniels, André De Shields​, John Larroquette & More Will Lead Starry Cast of Encores! 1776

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at Asians on Film on March 10th, The Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia on March 13th and the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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