Convention History as Presented in the Musical Ch1Pt3

History of the 1787 Constitutional Convention as Presented in
1787 the Musical
We Wrote the Constitution

by Robert Picklesimer


How the Whole Thing Got Started: The First Production of 1787 the Musical
and the Process that Led Up to It

Chapter 1, Part 3 (continued from Part 2) …But then there was Lucinda’s administrative side.

She had worked with other musicals with local theatre groups and schools and had written original music for the University of Illinois Department of Dance, so the first thing she did was to start formatting the play to recognizable standards, then to start allocating time – budgeting time – for the various songs and dialogue scenes.

But her largest early administrative contribution was to have us present our project to Eduardo Diaz-Muñoz, Chair of the Division of Opera at the University School of Music. The Division of Opera was just starting to expand their musical theatre offerings. They do a workshop production every year on one of the University of Illinois’ premiere stages, and this was just the sort of thing they were looking for. So, coupled with an advanced Opera Class, and with the leadership of Dawn Harris and Ricardo Herrera, and also coupled with an hour from Mozart’s Don Giovanni (I said at the time that at least we were in good company), in November of 2009 they produced a semi-staged concert production of ten of our songs from 1787 at the Colwell Playhouse of the Krannert Center of Performing Arts, University of Illinois (Urbana), as the first hour, with selections from Don Giovanni during the second hour. Dawn Harris adapted some very brief transitional narration between the songs, and once again we were off and running. They produced ten of our centerpiece songs: “Daniel Shays,” Molly Pitcher’s “Water from the Well,” the Hamiltons’ duet alternating with Madison “Books, Books, Books / I Kind of Like Him,” Charles Pinckney’s anthem “Americans Are We,” “Who Are We” with all the main players, “He’s Gone,” “Three-Fifths of a Man” (on “Deep River” tune), the Hamiltons’ duet “They Need Me / In Philadelphia,” Franklin’s advice to Madison “[It Is the] Dawning of the Day,” and the finale, “Americans Are We” (“We have us now a nation…”).

I then approached Jeff Goldberg and Pru Runkell, who had produced the musical which I had been in in 1993, 1776, and John Stuff, who had also been in 1776 and was the current Director of the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company, about producing 1787 the Musical. Jeff Goldberg agreed to produce and John and Pru agreed to help out. Many others came on board, and the rest is history.

We have revised the show again since its premiere production, eliminating ten minutes and changing the relative size of the first and second acts. And Jeff Goldberg also suggested to me that I write a book about the Convention, and that is what you have here. It can serve two purposes. First, Jeff felt that I had unique insights into the proceedings and character of the individual Founding Fathers, and felt I could write a useful resource on that subject itself. But, also, such a booklet could serve as a companion piece to help illuminate the playscript behind the musical, the whole basis of the subject.

So most of my commentary is a reflection of the actual history, but I also include our utilization of that history in producing an entertaining and informative musical.

CHAPTER 1, PART 1 How the Whole Thing Got Started…
CHAPTER 1, PART 2 How the Whole Thing Got Started…
CHAPTER 2, PART 1 Who Didn’t Make the Cut of 55 Delegates
to be released:
CHAPTER 2, PART 2 Who Didn’t Make the Cut of 55 Delegates
CHAPTER 3 Who Made the Cut
CHAPTER 4 Virginia Delegation
CHAPTER 5 Strong Delegation from Pennsylvania
CHAPTER 6 Small States; “Grumbletonians”; New Jersey Plan; Great Compromise
CHAPTER 7 The Other Two States with Grumbletonians
CHAPTER 8 Delegations from the South