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Cast of '1776' brings unique spin on Founding Fathers to San Diego

Multiracial cast of female, transgender, and nonbinary actors featured in Broadway tour
Posted at 5:59 AM, May 12, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — This week, Broadway San Diego presents a new vision of the founding of America.

The nation-wide Broadway tour of "1776" features a racially diverse cast of female-presenting, non-binary, and trans actors playing our Founding Fathers.

"This incarnation is told through the lens of people who were not in the room where it happened," says Karole Foreman, a San Diego native who plays the role of Robert Livingston.

The show tells the story of the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Traditional productions feature mostly white, male actors playing the roles of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and more.

By using an alternative cast, Foreman believes this production helps make the story more inclusive.

"They've just opened it up and really allowed us a point of entry to see it from the point of view of peoples where were not part of that initial creation," she says.

As the Founding Fathers grapple with ideals like freedom, equal representation, slavery, and oppression by a non-representative government, Foreman feels it has resonance to many of the problems America faces today.

She says this version of the show hammers that point home.

"(They) were talking about equality for all Americans," Foreman says. "All while excluding a whole swath of people that helped (and) were a significant part in creating this nation."

Alternative casting is nothing new in theater history. But if this specific idea for 1776 sounds familiar in San Diego, it is. The teen theater group JCompany did a similar version of the show in 2019.

"It's probably one of the most amazing shows I've ever done," says Joey Landwehr, who directed that production and now is the Artistic Director of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture.

Katie Ditter was in 8th grade when she played "The Courrier" in that production. As this new show brings that concept to a wider audience, Ditter says it's inspiring.

"It really heightened what we were already doing here, but with more diversity," she says. "And also, as they're older, seeing strong women like that (on stage) is inspiring for me."

Foreman hopes this production can inspire more people, especially after she shares it with her hometown.

"When we talk about inclusivity, I think we're all just looking for ways of equal participation," Foreman says. "It's not about taking something from someone else. It's expanding on what we've built, and sharing that experience."

The show runs through May 14 at the San Diego Civic Theater. For tickets, click here.