Friday, May 5, 2017

Broadway Theater Review: Bandstand

Bandstand
Music by Richard Oberacker
Book and Lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker
Directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
A new musical by Richard Oberacker (Broadway debut) set in 1945.  Donny Novitski (Corey Cott). still haunted by his experiences in battle and the death of his best friend arrives in Cleveland to check up on his pal's widow, Julia Trojan (the beautifully voiced Laura Osnes). When a national radio contest is announced to find America's next big swing band, Donny decides to gather some vet buddies and enter the contest for a chance to go to New York.  Julia turns out to be the perfect lead singer. The band works through some corruption in the radio program business, but the past and some of the secrets it holds might be too much to overcome when Julia and and Donny discover a chance at love.

What Are the Highlights?
Always a pleasure to hear Osnes sing. The ensemble is solid: Beth Leavel, Alex Bender, Joe Carroll, Brandon J. Ellis, James Nathan Hopkins, Geoff Packard.

What Are the Lowlights?The score, while containing some interesting combinations of notes, seems to lose its way. The band's big song is called "Love Will Come and Find Me Again." a rambling title that telegraphs the cut and polish needed to make this musical shine.

The opening scene is quite dramatic, though confusing as Director/Choreographer Andy Blankenbueler (of Hamilton fame) has battle scenes taking place on a domestic set designed by David Korins while Julia does about her daily business at home. It's hard to know how the woman on stage is connected to the action. The story is rather predictable and with little tension, it fails to capture out attention.

More Information:
Bandstand plays at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th St., NYC. bandstandbroadway.com

Additional credits:
 Paloma Young (Costume Design), Jeff Croiter (Lighting Design), Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design), Greg Anthony Rassen (Co-Orchestrator, Music Supervisor and Music Arranger), Bill Elliott (Co-Orchestrator), Fred Lassen (Musical Director and Conductor), Mark Stuart (Associate Choreographer) and makeup, hair and wig design by J. Jared Janas and Dave Bova.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Language

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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