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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review: Strike up the 'Bandstand'

July is the month to celebrate the land of the free and the home of the brave, and there's no greater show to celebrate the brave veterans who fought and still continue to fight for America. To carry on the patriotic spirit from the 4th of July, jive over to the Jacobs Theatre and experience the new American musical, Bandstand

I saw the show in June, the weekend of the Tony Awards. It's a musical about veterans that's dedicated to our vets and it's a show for all ages to enjoy. If you're not familiar with the storyline, it's set in Cleveland in 1945. Pfc. Donny Novitzki, who's played by Corey Cott (best known for playing Jack Kelly in Newsies), has just returned home from war. While trying to build back his life, Donny learns that NBC is hosting a national competition to find the nation's next sensational band. Donny join forces with a group of military veterans who learn that they each can play an instrument, carry a tune, and together create a rhythm that captivates audiences. Joe Carroll, Brandon James Ellis, James Nathan Hopkins, Geoff Packard, and Joey Pero help transform the Jacobs Theatre into a 40's jazz club. 

Along the way, Donnie encounters Julia Trojan, played by the lovely Laura Osnes, who has just lost her husband, Michael, in battle. Donnie and Michael were in the same infantry together and Julia begs Donnie to tell her more details about Michael's passing. In the meantime, Donnie realizes that Julia can sing and the two begin to form a close friendship. After much convincing from Donnie, Julia decides to perform with the band and before long the Donny Nova Band is ready to take on New York City and prove that they have the talent to succeed. And who is going to tell them no? 'Noooobody!'

I don't want to give away all of the storyline, so go get your tickets! Several of the numbers will have you humming and singing along for days. Osnes's solo, jazz number, "Love Will Come and Find Me Again", is a beautiful ballad that pairs perfect with her voice. Cott also gives one of the best performances of his career, especially with "Donny Novitzki", "Right this Way", and "This is Life". The musical doesn't shy away from many issues that were not widely discussed during that era, including PTSD and alcoholism. The 11-o'clock number, "Welcome Home" brings the entire story together and you truly have to see the entire show to understand and fully appreciate the context of this song. All of the songs leading up to this number allow you to go on a journey, learning piece-by-piece what this song is made of and you are able to finally see the band take its stand. "Welcome Home" is everything and more you would expect from a finale. 

Bandstand won Best Choreography at the Tony Awards and once you see this show live you will understand why. It was directed and choreographed by Hamilton Tony Winner, Andy Blankenbuehler, so of course the dancing was phenomenal. Your eyes will be glued to the entire ensemble as they dance to this swing score. 
Jacobs Theatre 
The producers of Bandstand have also created a project that allows you to share the power of Broadway with veterans! The sponsorship project, "Band Together- The Broadway Veteran Project" gives any U.S. military veteran access to receive sponsored tickets to see Bandstand! If you want to be a part of this amazing cause, all you have to do is make a tax deductible donation through Got Your 6, which is a program that promotes projects that accurately portray narratives that deal with military families. Bandstand is also the first Broadway show to be 6 Certified by Got Your 6. 

Go see and spread the love of Bandstand with everyone because you deserve it! 

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