When we think of the Tony winning musical "1776", Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards historically based show that has plenty of humor and reminds of the greatness of our forefathers without being a history lesson, our minds immediately conjure images of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. All three are principle roles in the show, and were leaders during the second Continental Congress during which the eventual Declaration of Independence came to fruition. 

However, "1776" also reminds us that there were other men involved in the shaping of our new nation. Some who have, over time, become mere shadows to the triumphant trio. They were, nonetheless, men who assisted in paving the way for our country's eventual independence.

Mark Marano, a Delaware County resident, plays the role of Samuel Chase. Following "1776", he'll be seen in a completely different type of show when he plays the humorous King Louis in "The Jungle Book" each weekend this summer beginning in June.
Mark Marano
"History has always been one of my favorite subjects, and to quote Indy Neidell from "The Great War" youtube series, "History must be lived" in order to be properly studied," he said. "You can't get anything much more alive than putting people on a stage who are trying to get inside the heads of the characters they are presenting to you, and when you understand the people, you better understand the events they help shape."

 As for the production of "1776", he explains that "Playing Chase is a wonderful opportunity to play someone who, at least initially, is on the "wrong side of history" for perfectly rational reasons - it was totally inconceivable for "a nation of 2 million souls to stand against an empire of 10 million" and actually survive, let alone win. Yet, once he's shown that a ragtag bunch of degenerates can effectively shoot together (at least while hunting their dinner), he's willing to take a gamble for a cause he believes in."

Marano is a fan of music theatre and enjoys being a part of it, be it in a classic Broadway musical or a children's show based on classic literature. "Music engages our brain and our bodies, even when we are just listening to it, and I've always been of the opinion that if you've got people laughing, you've got their attention."

He's a young actor, but has had a varied stage career.  "I've been lucky enough to be heavily involved in Shakespeare, but perhaps the most historically-involved production was during my junior year at DeSales University in a stage adaptation of "A Tale of Two Cities" (taking place in the midst of the bloody French Revolution) as the unscrupulous opportunist John Barsad and the truly inhuman Marquis d'Evremonde."

Marano adds, "I've been lucky to have a variety of shows and roles under my belt, but some of my favorites include Teddy in "Arsenic and Old Lace", Egeon in "A Comedy of Errors", The Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz", and Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother! Adding Samuel Chase to the list means I am more than 3/4 of the way to my Equity Card through the EMC program, which makes me very happy."

Marano is not a stranger to The Media Theatre stage, as he was a competitor during the early years of its "Delco Idol" summer singing contest, which is now referred to as "The Vocalist". The contest gives aspiring performers an opportunity to enhance their skills in front of a live audience and is a very educational experience. To that end, he understands the importance of educating through performance. 

"With "1776", I hope the students take away a new appreciation of how monumental a risk it was to declare independence," he explained. "I hope they take away the value of taking a worthwhile risk, no matter how gargantuan, no matter how perilous it may be to them. Most of all, I hope they come out of the show with a new perspective of America - that we've always been a nation of high ideals, and while we may frequently fall short of those ideals, we have the opportunity to improve upon what the Founding Fathers have given us. To quote Ben Franklin, when asked what kind of government the Constitutional Convention had given us: "[It's given you] a republic, if you can keep it."

From a mainstage classic to a children's story, Marano is an actor of many facets. Audiences may see this entertaining performer in either show by calling The Media Theatre at 610-891-0100 or visiting mediatheatre.org. "1776" is on now through May 22. "The Jungle Book" is on weekends (Saturdays at 11am, Sundays at Noon) in June, July, and August. 


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