Broadway
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Bandstand is an original musical composed by Richard Oberacker with book and lyrics by Oberacker and Robert Taylor.

The musical tells the story of a group of veterans returning home to the United States after World War II. Struggling to fit into their old lives while dealing with the lingering effects of the war – including post-traumatic stress and survivor's guilt for friends who did not survive – they form a band composed solely of veterans to compete in a national radio contest in New York City. The prize will guarantee instant stardom to the winners, and by performing together they hope to help one another deal with their personal issues. But with complicated relationships, the demands of the competition and the challenging after-effects of war, going all the way for a win in the contest seems like a dream that may break these musicians.

The original production of Bandstand, directed by Andy Blankenbuehler and starring Laura Osnes, Corey Cott and Beth Leavel, premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn in October 2015 and opened on Broadway on April 26, 2017, closing on September 17, 2017.

Productions[]

A workshop of Bandstand was held in September 2014 in New York City, and featured Laura Osnes, Corey Cott and Beth Leavel.

The show, retitled as The Bandstand, began previews on October 8, 2015, at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey, before its official opening on October 18, 2015, for a limited run until November 8, 2015.[4] Direction and choreography was by Andy Blankenbuehler, with the cast that starred Corey Cott, Laura Osnes and Beth Leavel as Donny, Julia, and Mrs. Adams, respectively. The musical contains swing, bebop, and jitterbug.

The musical, once again titled Bandstand, premiered on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on April 26, 2017, after starting previews on March 31, with Osnes and Cott and direction and choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler. The Broadway cast features Beth Leavel, Alex Bender, Joe Carroll, Brandon James Ellis, James Nathan Hopkins, and Geoff Packard. The production closed on Broadway on September 17, 2017, after 24 previews and 166 regular performances.

Synopsis[]

Act I[]

With painful images of combat still fresh in his mind, the young vet, pianist, and singer/songwriter Donny Novitski returns home from the war to Cleveland, Ohio in 1945, to find an America eager to get back to life (“Just Like It Was Before”). Unable to find success or solace in that promise, Donny hears of a National Radio Swing Band Competition in Tribute to the Troops, and hatches a plan to create a band composed entirely of fellow vets for a shot at instant fame and Hollywood fortune (“Donny Novitski”). With a statewide competition to win first, Donny puts his band together: Jimmy Campbell on saxophone/clarinet, Davy Zlatic on bass, Nick Radel on trumpet, Wayne Wright on trombone, and Johnny Simpson on drums (“I Know A Guy”).

Following their first performance (“Ain't We Proud”), he makes good on a promise to check in on Julia Trojan, the young widow of the man who had been his best friend in the war. Meanwhile, the vets in Donny’s new band try desperately to adjust to civilian life (“Proud Riff”). As Julia prepares to host Donny for dinner in the hope of learning more about her husband’s death, she confides in her mother, June Adams that she just wants to be (“Who I Was”). During dinner, Donny avoids discussing the death of Julia’s husband. Later, haunted by the memories of war, the band members play their instruments, and Donny arrives at the church where Julia sings (“Counterpoint/Pie Jesu”). Impressed by her voice, Donny invites Julia to hear the band he’s put together. Excitedly, Julia’s mother hopes that all will soon be “Just Like It Was Before (Reprise)”

At the club, Donny invites Julia to sing a standard with the Band (“First Steps First”). He convinces Julia to join them, and they begin rehearsing in earnest (“Breathe”) for their first gig together, trying out a new tune, “You Deserve It”. When Donny’s confidence in winning the competition falters, Julia offers him a journal of poems she has written. Realizing he has found his lyrical muse, he composes a melody for one of her poems that he is convinced will win them the preliminary in Ohio, and guarantee them a slot on the final broadcast in New York City. The Ohio broadcast is in full swing (“Dwight Anson & Jean Ann”), as the Donny Nova Band featuring Julia Trojan takes the stage with “Love Will Come And Find Me Again”. Chosen the winners, they are quickly crushed as they realize the daunting financial challenge they will have to surmount to get to New York. From disbelief and despair, Donny rallies his band of brothers with a vision of a world where they are recognized for their sacrifices and talents (“Right This Way”).

Act II[]

With renewed determination that (“Nobody”) tells them ‘no’, the Band begins playing every available club in Cleveland. Their growing number of fans celebrate that (“The Boys Are Back”). Julia and Donny continue their songwriting collaboration with (“I Got A Theory”) about Cleveland itself, raising more money and hometown support. With the New York trip imminent, and the bond between them growing stronger, Julia presses Donny for the truth of her husband’s death in battle. Horrified by the revelation that Donny accidentally caused his death in a friendly fire incident, Julia abandons the Band, only to be admonished by her mother that sometimes (“Everything Happens”) without reason or fault. After deep reflection, Julia returns to Donny with an offering of empathy in the form of a new poem, which paints a raw and truthful portrait of Donny and the Band members to whom she’s grown so attached: Johnny was severely injured and suffers from chronic pain, amnesia, and cognitive issues; Nick was a prisoner of war, giving him anger and trust issues; Davy liberated Dachau and has turned to alcohol and humor to cope with the memories; Wayne suffers from mental illness (likely OCD), meaning his children no longer recognise him and his marriage breaks down (his wife has left him, and he recently moved in with Nick); Jimmy focuses on his law studies to avoid letting anybody in after terrible loss; Donny is an insomniac who is experiencing survivor's guilt after the death of Michael, Julia's husband. Inspired, Donny sets Julia’s new poem to music, but both of them realize that the lyrics must be rewritten if the song is ever to be performed in public; they turn it into a love song about a girl and her returning soldier (“Welcome Home”).

With a generous gift from their hometown fans, the Band sets off to live their dream of being (“A Band In New York City”). After a magical first night in New York, Donny and Julia find themselves outside her hotel room door, finally admitting their true feelings for one another (“This Is Life”). Backstage at the final broadcast, moments before their appearance, the band realizes that the fine print of the contract they’ve signed is a trap, and the promised prize a sham. Refusing to allow their military service to be sentimentalized and exploited by the contest promoters, and unwilling to give away the rights to his song, Donny convinces the Band to make the riskiest choice of all, and fight for themselves (“This Is Life (Reprise)”). Live on air for the entire country to hear, the Band stages a virtual coup d’état of the broadcast as Julia sings every brutally honest word of her original poem (“Welcome Home (Finale)”).

In an (“Epilogue”), a year later, the Donny Nova Band featuring Julia Trojan find themselves to be celebrated stars, with sold-out New York concerts and a nationwide tour. Having shown the courage to sing their truth, they have won the hearts of people everywhere.

Cast[]

Character Workshop (2014) Paper Mill Playhouse (2015) Broadway (2017)
Donny Novitski Jarrod Spector Corey Cott
Julia Trojan Laura Osnes
Ms. June Adams Beth Leavel
Davy Zlatic James Nathan Hopkins
Jimmy Campbell Brandon J. Ellis
Nick Radel Joey Pero Alex Bender
Wayne Wright Geoff Packard
Johnny Simpson N/A Joe Carroll
Jean Anne Ryan N/A Stacia Fernandez Mary Callahan
Al N/A Kevyn Morrow
Mr. Jackson Ryan Kasprzak
Andre Baruch N/A Thomas Cannizzaro Jonathan Shew
Jo N/A Jessica Lea Patty
Oliver N/A Thomas Cannizzaro Drew McVety
Roger Cohen N/A Jeff Pew Ryan VanDenBoom
Entertainment Director N/A Tanya Birl Morgan Marcell
James Haupt N/A Daniel Cooney Kevyn Morrow
Production Assistant N/A Lauren Mufson Mary Callahan
Tom N/A Max Clayton
Betsy Andrea Dotto
Flora Novitski N/A Lauren Mufson N/A
Oscar Novitski N/A Daniel Mufson N/A
Talent Booker N/A Jessica Lea Patty N/A
Blue Wisp Waitress N/A Tanya Birl N/A
Dolores N/A Jessica Lea Patty N/A
Sydney Lemon N/A Daniel Cooney N/A
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