Music by Richard Oberacker
Book and Lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker
Directed and Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler
Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, Beth Leavel, Joe Carroll, Brandon James Ellis, James Nathan Hopkins, Geoff Packard, Joey Pero
Mary Callanan, Max Clayton, Patrick Connaghan, Matt Cusack, Andrea Dotto, Marc A. Heitzman, Ryan Kasprzak, Andrew Leggieri, Erica Mansfield, Morgan Marcell, Drew McVety, Kevyn Morrow, Jessica Lea Patty, Becca Petersen, Keven Quillon, Jonathan Shew, Ryan VanDenBoom, Jaime Verazin, Mindy Wallace, Kevin Worley
Scenic Design: David Korins
Costume Design: Paloma Young
Lighting Design: Jeff Croiter
Sound Design: Nevin Steinberg
Musical Director: Fred Lassen
First Performance March 31, 2017
Opening April 26, 2017
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Set in the smoke filled, swing fueled night clubs of 1945, Bandstand brings the against-all-odds story of singer/songwriter Donny Novitski (Cott) and his band of mismatched fellow WWII veterans to the stage.
When a national radio contest to find America’s next big swing band offers a chance at instant fame and Hollywood fortune, Donny must whip his wise-cracking gang of jazzers (Carroll, Ellis, Hopkins, Packard, Pero) into fighting shape. Teaming up with the beautiful young war widow Julia (Osnes) as their singer, they struggle to confront the lingering effects and secrets of the battlefield that threaten to tear them apart.
Playing for every voiceless underdog in a world that has left them behind, they risk everything in the final live broadcast to redefine the meaning of victory. With an explosive original score and choreography inspired by the high energy swing rhythms of the era, Bandstand is a truly American story of love, loss, triumph and the everyday men and women whose personal bravery defined a nation.
Alexis Soloski – New York Times
“Bandstand,” an openhearted, indecisive new musical, wants you clapping your hands and clenching your fists, tapping your toes and blinking back tears. It is both a peppy celebration of can-do spirit and a more somber exploration of what American servicemen experienced when they marched home from World War II.
Frank Rizzo – Variety
There’s a different “band of brothers” on stage in “Bandstand,” the earnest and often-entertaining musical that, set immediately following WWII, never quite achieves its noble ambitions. Despite the fluid staging and evocative choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler (“Hamilton”), an uneven book, undistinguished dialogue and only-serviceable tunes keep the show from meeting its deeper, darker and good-intentioned aspirations.
Joe Dziemianowicz – NY Daily News
Music soothes the savage beast and — apparently — shell shocked servicemen. That’s the prevailing wisdom of “Bandstand,” the well-meaning mishmash of a musical at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
Jeremy Gerard – Deadline
The final musical of the 2016-2017 Broadway season, Bandstand opened tonight at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre with a swinging look back at 1946. It’s about the post-WWII era and the conflicted welcome rolled out for returning veterans (think William Wyler’s The Best Years of Their Lives) and the music that swept across the U.S. during that period. Bandstand, staged with breathtaking originality by director-choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton), swings in a different way, as well: between the soft-focus lens of nostalgia and the jarring clarity that a contemporary view demands.
Chris Jones – Chicago Tribune
You would not normally expect a musical — a swing music, dance-heavy Broadway show with a brassy, big band sound that rarely stops — to attempt to address that pervasive sentimentalization of the homecoming of the 1940s veteran. But to its great credit, “Bandstand,” the first major post-“Hamilton” project of the choreographer (and here, also the director) Andy Blankenbuehler does indeed go after that issue, while still trying to deliver the kind of retro, glamorous and romantic entertainment you’d expect from the title.
Jesse Green – Vulture
Bandstand, on the other hand, has the courage of its convictions. It is really about what it’s really about, which broadly speaking is the damage war does to combatants and the further damage sometimes done by peace. Yes, it’s the first PTSD musical. I’m not saying it’s perfectly carried out, or even especially profound, but as directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, who created the musical staging for Hamilton, it remains almost compulsively faithful to its vision and never asks you to choose between what it’s showing you and what you know to be true.
Frank Scheck – The Hollywood Reporter
From its title and marketing campaign, you’d think the new musical Bandstand would simply be an exuberant paean to the joys of big-band swing. But there’s a gloominess hanging over this thematically ambitious show, written by Broadway newcomers Richard Oberacker and Rob Taylor. And why shouldn’t there be, since its troubled main characters include six World War II veterans and the widow of a man killed in combat. Uneasily attempting to be simultaneously a feel-good, swinging musical and a serious depiction of post-traumatic stress, Bandstand is at war with itself.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
Blankenbuehler fares better, his staging brisk and fluid, and accentuating the ghosts and nightmares that are afflicting all our heroes. His crowd scenes are especially terrific, lively and light-headed one moment, sinewy and sensual the next, always in accordance with the music. Though ornamenting his scenes transitions isn’t strictly necessary, and in fact distracts during the harsher or more somber moments, Blankenbuehler’s doing this definitely fixes the action in the proper time and place and acts as a barometer to the influence of the music on the populace. David Korins’s downmarket dive set in Act I has a cheap, halfway-there look that doesn’t impart much in the way of style, but improves drastically when things get more conceptually mod following intermission. Paloma Young’s costumes and Jeff Croiter’s lights are first-rate throughout.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
It helps that Blankenbuehler also directs, and his work on “Bandstand” signals the potential that Broadway may have found another Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse or Michael Bennett. “Bandstand” is only the second Broadway musical for which Blankenbuehler does double duty, following “Bring It On” five years ago. All he needs now is a musical worthy of his talents. “Bandstand” is not that musical.
Linda Winer – Newsday
Once inside the theater, however, we discover that we are meant to take the word apart and take it seriously. This is a musical — really, more of a musical drama — about a band of damaged war veterans who take a stand while competing in a national radio contest in 1945. The concept is more ambitious, darker and more sophisticated than its name invites theatergoers to enjoy. It is also more than a little shapeless and overly long.
Matt Windman – AM New York
At a time when the future of federal arts funding is in serious jeopardy, the high-powered new Broadway musical “Bandstand” serves as an urgent testimonial to the healing and restorative power that the arts (in this case, an informal neighborhood jazz band) can have for those who have endured economic or emotional hardships.