Bandstand Broadway – a special review

Hi all, Adina here: your friendly neighborhood theatre fan! This is going to be a bit different than my usual description of my theater escapades. (Though worry not, July adventures are coming soon!) As always, my previous theater talk can be found here

This is a special post about one particular Broadway show. I’ve effused over Bandstand several times here, and I’m about to do it some more. I heard it’s not doing so well at the box office, so I’m here to implore you (if you live in the area or if you are planning a trip) to work this show into your schedule. It’s a can’t miss.

 

Bandstand, a swinging show!

 

Quick recap. Bandstand tells the story of a young man, Donny Novitski, who is just back from serving in WWII. He hears about a nation-wide radio contest for a band, the prize being the song and the band being featured in a “major motion picture.” Donny is a musician and songwriter, but as he says, “the trick is the delivery.” So he gets a band of veterans together, all accomplished musicians. Donny’s best friend in his unit, Michael, doesn’t make it back, and Donny looks in on Michael’s widow as promised. Julia happens to be a beautiful singer so Donny recruits her for his band. Music helps the boys and Julia deal with their own demons as the band gains in popularity around Cleveland, although there are many obstacles along the way, most notably their own PTSD. Lest you think it’s all a downer, the songs are empowering and the ending is happy.

 

The Donny Nova Band

 

This is a show that honors veterans, both of the time they portray and the current men and women in uniform. The nonprofit organization Got Your Six endorsed Bandstand, the first Broadway show to ever be “6-Certified.” The GY6 website states: “To be 6 Certified a film [or Broadway show] must contain a representative and balanced depiction of veterans.” Each show is dedicated to a specific veteran. Backstage, they have a wall of pictures of vets to honor.

The music is memorable and the dancing unforgettable. The actors onstage all play their own instruments. Andy Blankenbuehler, who choreographed a little show last year called Hamilton, directed and choreographed Bandstand. He won the Tony this year for choreography, and what a well-deserved win it was! Check out this pop-up video of the Act II opener “Nobody”:

The cast recording is out on iTunes as well as streaming on Amazon Unlimited (sorry, no Spotify!). I highly recommend checking it out. Some of my favorite songs are “Donny Novitski,” “Nobody” (shown above), and the finale “Welcome Home” – which I will not post here for spoilers.


Corey Cott sings “Donny Novitski” in Shubert Alley

Broadway can be expensive, I get it – but worry not! There are discount codes, where mezzanine seats are $49! The theater is small and any seat is a good seat. I’ve sat in front mezz, rear mezz, rear orchestra – perfect view each time.

View from rear orchestra

 

I’ve seen this show about 4-5 times and I keep finding new things about it, nuances I hadn’t noticed before. The show really takes you on a roller coaster of emotions. Isn’t that what art is all about? If it makes you feel something, it’s done its job. I’m going back to see it again. Won’t you join me? Bring a friend or 5. Let’s keep this incredible show afloat so more people can experience it.

 

Also, the cast is terrific, both onstage and after at the stagedoor!

 

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