*Despite its title, the new Broadway musical Bandstand is not a multimedia musical version of Dick Clark’s famed American Bandstand TV classic. This lively stage presentation forced me to re-adjust my musical palate from popular music to 1940s jazz.
Now at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Bandstand is more than a story about swing. Starring Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, Beth Leavel, Alex Bender, Joe Carroll, Brandon J. Ellis, James Nathan Hopkins, and Geoff Packard, Broadway’s newest musical is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Andy Blankenbuehler, with music by Richard Oberacker and book and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker.
The musical is set during World War II. Donnie Novitski (Corey Cott) suffers the devastating loss of his best friend while in combat in the South Pacific and returns home to Cleveland broken. Looking to recapture his life before the war, Donnie focuses all of his attention on his first love—music. He discovers a music opportunity to compete on a national television show in New York City. As he assembles and rehearses a big band of fellow war veterans for the competition, which will send the winner to Hollywood to appear in an MGM movie, the musicians form an emotional bond that reflects their shared pain and suffering.
Finally, Donnie gathers the courage to visit his best friend’s widow, Julia; in an emotional encounter he shares stories with her about Michael and eventually encourages her to join his swing band as the lead vocalist, now named The Donny Nova Band featuring Julia Trojan.
The show’s big-band orchestrations and choreography are more than sufficient, but merely serve as a backdrop to the story. Bandstand is a reminder of the horrific pain and loss endured by our dedicated and beloved armed forces members while on the battlefield to honor, protect, and serve our country.
Gwendolyn Quinn is an award-winning media consultant with a career spanning more than 25 years. She is a contributor to BlackEnterprise.com, Black Enterprise’s BE Pulse, Huffington Post, EURWEB.com, and Medium.com. Quinn is also a contributor to Souls Revealed and Handle Your Entertainment Business.