July 4th, American Independence Day, is a holiday full of tradition.  It’s a day to spend with family and friends, eating barbecue, enjoyingthe music of John Philip Sousa, and blowing stuff up.  A 20-year tradition at my house is watching the Tony Award winning Sherman Edwards musical, 1776.

The musical, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning Peter Stone book,  tells the story of the debate for American independence, the origins of the Declaration of Independence and the wrangling it took to get it signed.  1776 features memorable musical numbers that you’ll hum to yourself for days after watching with performances from actors at the top of their craft.

William Daniels (voice of KITT in Knight Rider) plays the obnoxious and disliked John Adams, a lovesick Thomas Jefferson is portrayed by Ken Howard (TVs White Shadow), and blacklisted stage actor Howard Da Silva steals the show as Benjamin Franklin.  My favorite performance, though,  is masterfully provided by John Collum (TVs Holling Vincoeur in Northern Exposure).  Collum has a commanding, beautiful voice.  His song, Molasses to Rum, chills me each time I hear it.

In addition to returning to the film each year, I catch the musical on stage when I can.  I hate that I never got to see Brent Spiner (TNG’s Data) as John Adams.

1776 airs today on Turner Classic Movies at 2:30 pm Eastern/1:30 Central.  It’s available on Netflix, but sadly does not stream.

At it’s core, 1776 documents a beautiful love that dare not speak its name between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson…