Aug 15th, 2017
Please note that this review was written about the original Broadway production.
Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker's new musical Bandstand has given a voice to the many men and women who served in the army, both those who survived and those who did not. Set in Cleveland, Ohio during the mid 1940s, Bandstand looks at the lives of the wounded soldiers who returned from World War II with the promise of life being "Just Like It Was Before".
Andy Blankenbuehler (Director and Choreographer) blends vibrant upbeat swing dance sets with sensual contemporary movements which immediately highlights the imbalance of this place these soldiers once called home. Their inner demons move alongside replaying dark memories from the war and reminding them of the fallen soldiers left behind. It is only when the band comes together to play in unison that these broken men disappear and we see that the remaining men have to find a new beat to keep them going, a new fight worth living for. Blankenbuehler won the 2017 Tony award for his bold choreography that slices these men open and exposes their pain, loneliness and vulnerability.
Taylor and Oberacker have captured a playfulness and comradery between Donny and his fellow veterans with banter and silly jokes transforming these men from written characters into real living men we can relate to. Bandstand highlights these men as heroes without big explosions and bloodshed. Their pain is not presented with melodrama and their war stories are not retold with hype and action but rather a chilling truth of humility and silent suffering.
Make no mistake, this show is vibrant, colorful and fun and there is nothing quite like swing to showcase colorful sets and gorgeous dresses! As the dancers twist and twirl through the air you just can't help but adore every detail. Costume designer Paloma Young has not only captured the era of fashion but the feeling of it too. This was a time when women had found a stronger sense of independence and their own flare. By the mid 40s strict rationing of fabric was lifted and brighter patterns were worn to forget about the depressing war which Young has woven into Bandstand.
This production is designed to move you and you'll be tapping along to the beats of Donny Nova's band featuring Julia Trojan in no time at all!
View our show pages for more information about Bandstand, Stranahan Theatre.
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