It’s 1945, Cleveland, Ohio and Donny Novitski (Corey Cott) has just returned from the war with two things on his mind. First, he needs to get a job and second, he needs to pay a visit to his best friend and war buddy Michael’s, now widowed wife Julia Trojan (Laura Osnes) and explain how her husband died in the war. Neither comes easy in this sometimes heart wrenching, sometimes joyful, new musical by Rob Taylor and Richard Oberacker.
Donny can only do one thing, and that is make music. He tries in vain to find a piano playing gig, but days turn into weeks to his utter frustration. His hope is restored when he hears about the ‘American Songbook Tribute to the Troops’ contest and goes out in search of musicians to create his swing band. One by one he signs up an all war veteran band. Each one has come back damaged goods, but they all find comfort in creating music. Now that Donny has his band together, he’s got one more thing to do. He finally makes that dreaded to visit Julia, who is now living with her sassy Mother June (Beth Leavel). After several visits with Julia, Donny learns of her musical talents and convinces her to join the band. He changes his last name from Novitski to Nova, and they become the Donny Nova Band. They write songs, and compete for a chance to perform live at New York City’s Beacon theatre, and a cameo appearance in a film. It wouldn’t be right for me to tell you how it all turns out, but probably not exactly the way you might think and there are many ups and downs until the conclusion. Not only with the band, but with their hearts.
What I can tell you is that this musical is filled with high energy delight. While there is a full orchestra, all the band members, including Cott himself play their own instruments. Do you call these quadruple threats?
When you have a top notch cast like this, not much can go wrong and it doesn’t. Osnes and Cott are a Broadway dream team. The band members each bring a unique individuality to their roles, and are skilled on the instruments. Beth Leavel sadly only gets one solo, but she brings it to full heights. The choreography jitters and gyrates with the light-footed ensemble cast, which was no surprise since Andy Blankenbuehler of Hamilton fame was behind every move, and also directs. The couture-esque costumes (Paloma Young) were period eclectic perfection.
If you want to see some mighty fine vintage dancing and swinging, Bandstand is the place to find it. For tickets and more information visit the website at http://bandstandbroadway.com and check for available discounts to this and other shows at my website here.