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      An entertaining way to learn about our country's beginning

      Election season means many eyes are focused on the democratic process of the United States. It is also an appropriate time to think about how the U.S. became an independent nation.

      A Tony Award winning musical that is being performed in Marquette this week gives audience members the chance to do that, as they relive part of America's beginning.

      The musical "1776" takes the stage at Northern Michigan University's Forest Roberts Theatre Wednesday through Saturday. There are performances each night at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee on Saturday at 1 p.m.

      Director Paul Truckey explained that the production includes many well known historical figures.

      "All of the usual suspects," said Truckey. "John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, all together, arguing the merits for and against trying to achieve independence against England."

      Using drama and comedy, the production shows America's founding fathers trying to convince members of the Second Continental Congress to vote for independence from Great Britain.

      Actor Shane Vincent added, "It's just the struggle through trying to get all the delegates to agree with them."

      Vincent plays the role of congressional custodian in 1776. The junior theatre major is appearing in his sixth show at NMU. Along with veterans like Vincent, the 30 member cast includes at least ten newcomers to the Forest Roberts stage.

      "It's kind of an unusual musical in that it's kind of a play with music in it than it is a musical with lots and lots of songs," Truckey said.

      1776 also includes a pit orchestra, under the direction of Rob Engelhart.

      "It's an award winning show, it has great music, you'll be entertained, it's funny," Vincent commented. "There's fights, let's say."

      Truckey said the show is being put on at the right time.

      "I think that it was apropos for us to do this with the election coming up," he said. "We're only doing it a few weeks before the election...maybe we'll get a few people riled up to get out there and rock the vote, right?"

      Tickets for the general public are $15. Admission is $5 for NMU students. Go to www.nmu.edu/tickets for more information.