Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Theater Review: Bandstand

Filed under: Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 16:00

Written by Guest Writer E. Fisher:

Bandstand follows Donny Novitski (Cott), from WW II battlefield, to NYC & Hollywood.  He’s a singer/song- writer who steam-roller collects a group of musicians, (veterans) determined to win the big NBC radio contest culminating in a Hollywood movie, fame, fortune the   USA’s next big band.  There’s recurring battle memories & PTSD, some tear jerking, lots of wonderful ’40s style dancing & music & a thread of plot that picks up steam as the show moves along.  (Lots of veterans in the audience were loudly supportive.)  As w/ a few other  recent Bway shows, many of the top people sing,    dance & play an instrument. Each band member is       an extremely good soloist on his instrument. Before I saw it, I was hard pressed to figure out how  they were going to make a Bway show out of the plot. It has the strong ’40s movie simplicity w/ exceptionally wonderful dancing.

The entire cast maintains a high level of energy & character.  (I was impressed that they were all so fresh & strong after finishing the matinee  today.)  Osnos’ mother, Beth Leavel, is a delightful  highlight as are many of the smaller parts, but as a whole, & individually, this feels much more like an adult Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney ’40s movie – simple, w/ a very uncomplicated plot.  I was surprised at how many Hamilton staging & choreographic elements were      used, updated & “modernized” — but solidly there.       The 1st act seemed unusually long & lots of the plot   telegraphed eons ahead of time.  The show was tried   out at the Paper Mill Playhouse last year & the Bway opening was postponed, needing further work.  It still   feels as if it needs further work — probably on the book, first.  Much of what’s there is marvelously good (dancing) with some particularly good musicians & talent — but overall, is insufficient & somewhat lacking overall.  I’d   say this would probably make a good play — if the book is reworked a bit, but, as is, the dancing & music over- whelm the too thin plot.

Main Cast:
Laura Osnos, Corey Cott, Beth Leavel, Joe Carroll, Brandon James Ellis, Nate Hopkins, Geoff Packard & Joey Pero

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