Strike up the band, New Jersey Theatre makes it to the Great White Way!
After ‘Bandstand’ graduated from the Paper Mill Playhouse, a new Broadway favorite was born. In fact, ‘Bandstand’ just celebrated their 100th performance at the Bernard Jacobs theatre on Broadway.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the lead actors in the performance, Laura Osnes and Corey Cott. She explains the process to be “so rewarding to be a part of Bandstand from the very beginning and to see this process through. It was really special to get to premiere bandstand and to then to bring it to Broadway a year later."
Corey Cott, who plays the lead male character, Donny Novitski suggests that “audiences in New Jersey are so generous and kind and at the same time, willing and honest to be up front about what they think. He believes that it helped the production immensely before coming to New York.
It’s a story following World-War II of a young man who joins forces with a group of fellow veterans. They turn to music to heal them through post-war life. In fact, the power of creating music is a recurring theme throughout the plot.
Mike Hoebee, the Creative Artistic Director describes “the significance of music in this particular show Bandstand is really at the core of the piece. Everything from the songs, to the lyrics, the feeling of the music, the tempos, even the way it’s orchestrated is much deeper than your typical musical. The sound comes from the pit.”
To be fair, this is not the first Broadway favorite that first premiered at the Paper Mill. The world-renowned music “A Bronx Tale” also originated in Millburn, New Jersey.
The Paper Mill has been a regional theater for almost 80 years. They produce major Broadway revivals ,as well as, new works and plays. A variety of actors such as Anne Hathaway, Kristen Chenoweth, Laura Osnes and Corey Cott, got their start here.
Bandstand’ is directed by Andy Bankenbuehler, the winner of the 2017 Tony award for Best Choreography and the 2016 Tony award for Hamilton. He also produced another groundbreaking musical- the revival of ‘Cats.’
It’s the musical that not only explodes with high energy, with its swing music & pin-up curls, but also reveals post-war trauma, paying homage to veterans with PTSD.
Hoebee suggests that they use their music, as a way to express emotion and a way to connect as war heroes. Also as a way to speak to their families/public about a topic people didn't talk about back then.
Most importantly, Bandstand is perhaps the first musical to address the military veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Music seems to give the verterans from the war, this momentary escape from the pain inside their head and their hearts, according to Cott. The swing music and the camaraderie of playing this music together is a method of coping from war.
Tucked away on 45th Street in Manhattan, is where you can take part in the Powerhouse Performance that is 'Bandstand'. For more information check out their website: http://bandstandbroadway.com/
For the full interview video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngD-Esu5eLM
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