Review: THE BANDSTAND Debuts at Paper Mill with Epic Pizazz

By: Oct. 22, 2015
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The Bandstand, a Swing-Era World Premiere musical, is now at the Paper Mill Playhouse through November 8th. This completely original show is a real blockbuster. Brilliantly directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner, Andy Blankenbuehler, it features a book and lyrics by Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor and music by Richard Oberacker.

The Bandstand is set in 1945 just as WWII has ended. A group of military veterans come together to compete in a national radio contest. The group possesses the musical talent to succeed but their task is a complicated one. Challenged by the after-effects of war, the demands of the contest, personal differences and financial constraints, their path to stardom is anything but guaranteed. These men who once were fighting for their lives are now fighting for themselves. You will be especially moved by this heartfelt story as so many of our current day veterans also struggle to get ahead.

The cast of The Bandstand delivers outstanding performances. Corey Cott plays Donny Novitski, a songwriter, pianist and the determined band-leader who lives on little sleep and big dreams. Laura Osnes portrays Julia, a talented singer and poet who joins the band. Julia is also dealing with the tragic loss of her husband in the war and the prospect of a new romance with Donny. Beth Leavel plays Julia's mother, a warm, wise and honest woman. The band members include Joe Carroll as Johnny Simpson, Brandon J. Ellis as Davy Zlatic, James Nathan Hopkins as Jimmy Campbell, Geoff Packard as Wayne Wright and Joey Pero as Nick Radel. The show's cast is rounded-out by a dazzling ensemble.

The score is inventive and flawlessly performed with thrilling dance numbers. It includes songs that are pure pizazz like "I Know a Guy," "You Deserve It," and "Worth It." Memorable pieces like, "Just Like It Was Before," and the passionate piece, "Welcome Home" will tug at your heartstrings. The numbers are wholly relevant to the story line and each song makes you yearn for the next.

David Kreppel is the Music Director/Vocal Arranger; Bill Elliot, Orchestrations; Greg Anthony Rasson, Music Arrangements.

The Design Team brings a true sense of the Swing-Era to life with scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paloma Young, lighting design by Jeff Croiter, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair, wig and make-up design by J. Jared Janas and casting by Tara Rubin Casting.

The Bandstand is an epic, patriotic musical that tells of struggle, loss and a special kind of heroism. Paper Mill Playhouse is kicking off its season with a show that is sure to entertain and raise your spirits, a musical theatre fan's dream come true.

The Bandstand will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday to Sunday through November 8th. Tickets are on sale and range from $29 to $102. They may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343 at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn or online at

Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia


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