Bandstand (musical)

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The New American Musical
MusicRichard Oberacker
LyricsRichard Oberacker
Robert Taylor
BookRichard Oberacker
Robert Taylor
SettingCleveland and New York City, August to December 1945
PremiereOctober 8, 2015 (2015-10-08):
Paper Mill Playhouse
Millburn, New Jersey
Productions2015 Paper Mill Playhouse
2017 Broadway

Bandstand is an original musical composed by Richard Oberacker with book and lyrics by Oberacker and Robert Taylor.[1]

The first musical 6 Certified by the organization Got Your 6 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 – they form a band composed solely of veterans to compete in a national patriotic radio contest in New York City. The winning song will be performed in a new Hollywood by the band, which will make them household names. This group of veterans play their hearts out while also providing post-war America a look into the effects the Second World War had on America's heroes.

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.


A workshop of Bandstand was held in September 2014 in New York City, and featured Laura Osnes, Corey Cott and Beth Leavel.[2][3]

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.[5]

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.[6] The Broadway cast features Beth Leavel, Alex Bender, Joe Carroll, Brandon James Ellis, James Nathan Hopkins, and Geoff Packard.[7][8] The production closed on Broadway on September 17, 2017, after 24 previews and 166 regular performances.[9] A professional recording of the Broadway production was screened in movie theaters on June 25, 2018 and June 28, 2018.[10] The professional recording made a reappearance in theaters November 15, 2018 and November 19, 2018.[11]

A non-Equity US tour opened October 29, 2019 in College Station, TX, starring Jennifer Elizabeth Smith as Julia Trojan and Zack Zaromatidis as Donny Novitski.[12]


Act I[edit]

Newly back from the front lines, 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 a place in post-war Cleveland for himself, 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 and clarinet, Davy Zlatic on bass, Nick Radel on trumpet, Wayne Wright on trombone, and Johnny Simpson on drums (“I Know A Guy”). Each of the members of the band have struggled with the adjustment from military life to life at home, but they find friendship and commonality over this shared goal.

Following their first performance (“Ain't We Proud”), Donny 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, Michael. 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 she was before her husband's death (“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”). After the performance, Donny convinces a hesitant Julia to join the band, 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. Inspired by Julia's take on post-war life, Donny composes a melody for one of her poems that he is convinced will win them the preliminary in Ohio which guarantees 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”. The band wins the state preliminary, but are told they have to pay their own way to New York and are required to compete in a second round of elimination to secure their spot in the final broadcast. 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[edit]

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 Michael's death in a friendly fire incident, Julia abandons the Band. After expressing her feelings to her mother, June tells Julia that sometimes “Everything Happens” without reason or fault. After deep reflection, Julia returns to Donny with a new poem as an apology, which paints a raw and truthful portrait of Donny and the Band members: 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 recognize him and his marriage breaks down; 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”).

After having received a generous donation 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, and he and Julia kiss. (“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.

Musical numbers[edit]

Paper Mill Playhouse 2015[edit]

Source: Stage View[13]

Broadway 2017[edit]

Not featured on Original Broadway Cast Recording

Characters and original cast[edit]

The characters and original cast:

Character Workshop (2014)[14] Paper Mill Playhouse (2015)[15] Original Broadway Cast (2017)[8]
Donny Novitski Jarrod Spector Corey Cott
Julia Trojan Laura Osnes
Mrs. June Adams Beth Leavel
Jimmy Campbell James Nathan Hopkins
Davy Zlatic Brandon J. Ellis
Nick Radel Joey Pero Alex Bender
Wayne Wright Geoff Packard
Johnny Simpson N/A Joe Carroll
Jean Ann Ryan N/A Stacia Fernandez Mary Callanan
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 Callanan
Tom N/A Max Clayton
Betsy Andrea Dotto
Flora Novitski N/A Lauren Mufson N/A
Oscar Novitski N/A Daniel Cooney 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
Notable Broadway replacements
  • Joey Pero was injured in February 2017 and did not move with the musical to Broadway. He joined the Broadway production on June 30, 2017 in his original role of Nick, as well as performing as Nick when Bandstand had its two-night-only release in movie theaters all throughout the United States.[16]
  • Carleigh Bettiol replaced Jessica Lea Patty as Jo, Julia's understudy, and a member of the ensemble on August 1, 2017.[17]

Critical reception[edit]


The Broadway production of Bandstand received mixed reviews from critics after opening on April 26, 2017. Critics across the board praised Andy Blankenbuehler for his choreography, which the New York Theatre Guide calls "superb in the extreme."[18] The Chicago Tribune describes Blankenbuehler's choreography as having a "unique kindness and fragility."[19] The main criticism of Bandstand regards the plot and character development. The show is applauded for its attempt to delve into the deeper issues that plagued those who came home after World War II. Despite this attempt, critics found the plot "a little too sweet" as it follows a predictable timeline.[18] The unconventional look into the characters that make up the Donny Nova Band give the show a "raw nerve", but the veterans were provided with "few defining musical moments of their own."[20][18]

Got Your 6 Certification[edit]

Starting in late 2015, writers Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor received feedback from Got Your 6 to ensure that Bandstand was an accurate portrayal of WWII veterans[21]. This led to a discussion between real veterans and the cast, engaging the cast and crew on how to avoid stereotypes and create characters that resemble real people. The collaboration with Got Your 6 resulted in Bandstand being the "first theater production to be 6 Certified for the show's reasonable and accurate veteran portrayals."[21]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway Production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2017 Tony Awards Best Choreography Andy Blankenbuehler Won
Best Orchestrations Bill Elliott & Greg Anthony Rassen Nominated
Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Actress in a Musical Laura Osnes Nominated
Outstanding Music Richard Oberacker Nominated
Outstanding Book of a Musical Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Bill Elliott & Greg Anthony Rassen Won
Outstanding Choreography Andy Blankenbuehler Won
Outstanding Costume Design in a Musical Paloma Young Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design in a Musical Jeff Croiter Nominated
Drama League Award Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical Nominated
Distinguished Performance Laura Osnes Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Choreography Andy Blankenbuehler Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design Nevin Steinberg Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Bill Elliott & Greg Anthony Rassen Nominated
Chita Rivera Awards[22] Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show Andy Blankenbuehler Won
Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show Nominated
Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show Max Clayton Nominated
Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show Ryan Kasprzak Nominated
Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show Andrea Dotto Nominated
Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show Jaime Verazin Nominated


  1. ^ "Broadway's Bandstand Marks an Historic Theatrical First | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  2. ^ "The Verdict: Critics Review 'The Bandstand' at Paper Mill Playhouse", Playbill, October 20, 2015
  3. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Tony Winner Andy Blankenbuehler Will Helm NYC Workshop of 'Bandstand: A Musical' " Playbill, May 27, 2014
  4. ^ Lloyd Webber, Imogen. # " Joe Carroll, Brandon J. Ellis & More Set for The Bandstand, Starring Laura Osnes & Corey Cott", August 21, 2015
  5. ^ Saltzman, Simon. "A CurtainUp New Jersey Review. The Bandstand" CurtainUp, October 18, 2015
  6. ^ McPhee, Ryan and Hetrick, Adam. "What Did Critics Have to Say About 'Bandstand' on Broadway?" Playbill, April 26, 2017
  7. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Principal Cast Announced for Broadway’s 'Bandstand' Musical" Playbill, November 30, 2016
  8. ^ a b Gordon, David. "Laura Osnes and Corey Cott Will Transfer to Broadway With The Bandstand" TheatreMania, November 5, 2015
  9. ^ McPhee, Ryan. " 'Bandstand Closes on Broadway September 17" Playbill, September 17, 2017
  10. ^ Hershberg, Marc. "Bandstand Swinging to the Big Screen". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  11. ^ "Bandstand on Instagram: "The boys are back! Take a gander at the new #BandstandOnScreen trailer and be sure to visit the link in bio for tickets."". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  12. ^ Hetrick, Adam. " 'Bandstand' Will Launch National Tour This Fall" Playbill, April 29, 2019
  13. ^ "StageView | The Bandstand". The Bandstand: Musical Numbers. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  14. ^ "Laura Osnes and Jarrod Spector Lead Bandstand Musical Workshop". Playbill. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  15. ^ "The Cast". Stageview. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Following Injury, Joey Pero Makes Broadway Debut in 'Bandstand' June 30" Playbill, June 30, 2017
  17. ^ The Broadway League
  18. ^ a b c "Reviews. 'Bandstand'"
  19. ^ Jones, Chris. "A Broadway 'Bandstand' for the Greatest Generation" "Chicago Tribune", April 26, 2017
  20. ^ "Reviews. 'Bandstand'" Variety, 2017
  21. ^ a b [1]
  22. ^ " 'Great Comet', 'Bandstand' and More Take Home 2017 Chita Rivera Awadrs", September 11, 2017

External links[edit]