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"Bandstand", The New American Musical, Stars Laura Osnes and Corey Cott at Bernard R. Jacobs Theatre
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"Bandstand", The New American Musical, Stars Laura Osnes and Corey Cott at Bernard R. Jacobs Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights


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Tom Smedes, Gabrielle Palitz, Terry Schnuck
Tom Kirdahy, Roger Horchow
et al.
And The Shubert Organization
In assoc. with Paper Mill Playhouse
Present:

Bandstand
The New American Musical
(Bandstand Website)

Music by Richard Oberacker
Book & Lyrics by Rob Taylor and Richard Oberacker

Directed and Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler
Music Supervisor and Arranger: Greg Anthony Rassen

Starring:
Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, Beth Leavel
Alex Bender, Joe Carroll, Brandon Ellis
James Nathan Hopkins, Geoff Packard

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

At
Bernard R. Jacobs Theatre
242 West 45th Street
NY, NY
212.239.6200

Scenic Design: David Korins
Costume Design: Paloma Young
Lighting Design: Jeff Croiter
Sound Design: Nevin Steinberg
Wig, Hair, Makeup Design: J. Jared Janas/Dave Bova
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting/Lindsay Levine, CSA
Music Director: Fred Lassen
Co-Orchestrators: Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen
Vocal Arrangements: David Kreppel
Music Coordinator: Howard Joines
Production Stage Manager: Mark Dobrow
Production Management: Juniper Street Productions, Inc.
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Advertising & Marketing: AKA
General Manager: The Charlotte Wilcox Company

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 5, 2017


The new musical at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Bandstand, should be a long-lasting hit, a diamond in the rough of an ensemble show, with exquisite song, soul, and swing. Laura Osnes, one of the best singers onstage these days, also stretches her acting performance to draw the audience into her yearning and loss. Bandstand is set in post-World War II Cleveland Ohio, where Donny Novitski (Corey Cott), a wannabee songwriter, pianist, singer has just returned from battle. He promised his best friend and wartime buddy that he’d look after his wife, Julia (Ms. Osnes), if he did not return. The only problem is that Donny is hiding a dark accident from the battlefield, related to his buddy’s fatal injury. Donny discovers a national song contest, produced by MGM and NBC out of New York, and the winner will get a Hollywood film break as well. Since there’s a veterans’ theme to the contest, Donny sees this as a huge opportunity. He hires a band of musicians, all veterans, and each actually performs live before our eyes. In many such musicals, the actors are bluffing instrumental performance, but, here, amazingly, each actor has talent specific to his instrument, piano, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, drums, and bass.

As the band practices for the first level competition, we learn of the post-war trauma each character has absorbed, and this show is expanded and enhanced with poignancy and pathos. One musician has obsessive compulsive disorder, one drinks like a lush, one has temper tantrums, one cheats on his wife, while another fights the demons and takes graduate courses. A small pit orchestra supports the band in superb synchronization. Julia is recruited to sing with the band for the two contest tryouts, and Julia and Donny, of course, fall in love. But, it’s 1945, and their kiss finally comes late in the show. The post-war psychological conflicts and the financial problems in funding the trip to New York for the finals (Bayer Aspirin, the contest sponsor, hides the actual overhead expenses), combined with Julia’s prolonged mourning, take their toll on the troupe. But, to the rescue comes Andy Blankenbuehler, Director and Choreographer, and the best swing dancing, in fact any dancing on Broadway this season, rolls out all night, across the stage. Richard Oberacker’s dance music rings of the best 1940’s swing tunes, and the athletic dance is astounding, with tosses, leaps, lifts, spins, and all that jazz. Also to the mood-elevation rescue is Beth Leavel as Mrs. June Adams, Julia’s mother, with witty comebacks and attitude. I’d love to see a show starring this natural comic, who’s been favorably reviewed on these pages in “Elf”, “The Drowsy Chaperone”, and “Baby It’s You”.

David Korins’ uncluttered scenery is perfectly suited in flexibility to move from the original battle scene to club rehearsals and gigs to the New York extravaganza. Lots of red, white, and blue are abundantly seen in Jeff Croiter’s lighting and even in some of Julia’s costumes by Paloma Young. Ms. Young has also recreated the 1940’s pants and suspenders so requisite to the band and dancers. Ron Taylor and Mr. Oberacker wrote the excellent book and lyrics, some of which are poetic. Julia writes poetry, and Donny adds the tunes. The plot has Donny changing his stage name to Nova, and Mr. Cott, who was favorably reviewed in Gigi and Newsies, sings, acts, and plays the upright piano with fervor and magnetic musicality. Mr. Cott and Ms. Osnes (who has certainly graduated from her recent Broadway role as Cinderella) make quite a team. Nevin Steinberg’s sound design keeps the songs and rhythms brimming with captivating, tonal warmth. This show deserves a long run, with its embracing and enthralling themes of 1940’s Americana and its sensational song and dance.














For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net