This past week I had the absolute pleasure of catching the new Broadway musical Bandstand starring Laura Osnes and Corey Cott. While the first act was fairly slow, it picked up to create one of the strongest second acts I have seen in a long time. I agree with the popular opinion circulating the theatre community: This was definitely the most underrated show of the season.
With my personal new favorite score of the 2016/2017 season, I had a very unique experience. For those of you that don’t know, this past week was Fleet Week. Fleet Week is an event in which active military ships dock in major cities all at once.
They opened the show with an announcement that it was Fleet Week, welcoming all past, present, and future soldiers to the show. As a show about World War 2 veterans, they offered a discount to active military.
The show follows Donny Novitski as he returns from World War 2 and creates a band to win a music competition. While working on this project, he goes to his best friend, fallen soldier Michael Trojan’s house to keep an eye on Julia, Michael’s widow. Corey Cott is magnificent in taking the role of Donny to the highest level of blended comedy and moroseness. His vocals were perfectly fitting for the lively veteran, and his ability to be both enticing and a little bit egotistical showed fantastic acting chops.
Bright star Laura Osnes shone as Julia Trojan. Her vocals are unparalleled, especially as she belted during the heart wrenching “Welcome Home”. The emotion she conveyed throughout the show proved relatable to any widow of a fallen soldier. Her sweet demeanor and beautiful talent made her the perfect candidate for this role, and I would bet that there isn’t a person who wasn’t talking about her performance for hours following the show.
Through a style of music that resembles that of the 1940s, they tell this story of tragedy and redemption. Towards the end of the show, Julia and Donny write a song based on one of Julia’s poems about her husband titled “Welcome Home”. During this song she sings about the sad truth of many veterans that either don’t return home, or come back with severe survivor's guilt due to their friends’ deaths. Throughout this song, I kept looking around at the active soldiers and their families in the room, and I didn’t see a single dry eye. Did I mention that the band Donny Nova creates play their own instruments on stage? It was a perfect representation of that time period.
This star-studded cast tells this story in a way that is incredibly moving. I loved seeing this aspect of World War 2 that you often don’t see in the movies. My only big issue with the show is something that I would like to tell every single show writer that might be reading this. NOT EVERY SHOW NEEDS TO HAVE A LOVE STORY. I won’t be elaborating on that because it would be a huge spoiler for the show. That said, the more I think about this show, the more it grows on me.
I highly encourage anyone that is able to go see this show. It was so powerful that after the show I stuck around for an extra 10 minutes just to shake as many soldier’s hands and thank them for their service. We as people often forget the hardships that these brave men and woman face while they fight to keep us safe, and it’s shows like this, that remind us how grateful we should be of them. Being offered a new perspective of life after World War II was riveting and made for a standout production from all involved.
A college student that sees many shows annually.