Review: Bandstand starring Laura Osnes and Corey Cott
Bandstand, A New Musical stars Laura Osnes and Corey Cott, arguably two of Broadway's brightest stars. Osnes was last seen on Broadway holding the title role in Cinderella for which she picked up multiple nominations. Cott made his Broadway debut in Disney's Newsies, replacing Jeremy Jordan, and went on to play opposite Vanessa Hudgens in Gigi. The two together are a force to be reckoned with onstage, and aside from being great actors have fantastic chemistry onstage.
Bandstand begins with Cott's character, Donny, in the trenches with his buddy Michael who dies and we see Osnes' character, Julia, receiving the telegram that her husband (Michael) has died. While this is Osnes' only appearance for the first 15-20 minutes of the show, she immediately sets up the emotional pain of her character, without saying a word. When a competition is announced for bands from each of the 48 states to compete in a tribute to the troops, Donny, who has been home from the war for a few weeks, decides to start a band, of all veterans. However he also has promised to look in on Julia and make sure she's okay after promising Michael that he would make sure she was okay. He does, eventually, and they talk about her husband and he asks if she sings. She says that she sings in church but that's about it. He goes to see her sing and invites her to come watch his band, before pulling her up onstage to sing with them. They invite her into the band and work on writing music to get them to New York for a live broadcast from the Palace Theater of the bands that make it.
Some of the most memorable moments in the show come from Beth Leavel as Mrs. Adams, Julia's mother. A Broadway and stage veteran, Leavel's performance is one of the best in the company and she brings some light-hearted humor to the stage with some of the best lines in the show. Brandon James Ellis plays Davy Zlatic, the bass player, and he also has some of the best lines in the show that bring a bit of humor to a slightly more serious scene.
The actors in the band on stage include Ellis on the bass, Cott on the piano, Joey Pero as Nick Radel on the trumpet, Joe Carroll as Johnny Simpson on the drums, James Nathan Hopkins as Jimmy Campbell on the sax, and Geoff Packard as Wayne Wright on the trombone. Each one of them plays live, and they each are absolutely fantastic at their instrument throughout each number. Osnes even joins in at one point, playing the ukulele with Cott on the piano.
The ensemble of the show are some of the best dancers on Broadway. They draw attention to them with the artistic choreography of Andy Blakenbuehler who's Tony award for his work is very well deserved. When they need to be, they're in perfect sync, and each on of them does the choreography beautifully.
Some of the standout numbers in the show are sung by Laura Osnes. "Love Will Come and Find Me Again" is both heartbreaking and beautiful. Osnes has incredible control over her voice and is able to display emotion through the words of the song. "Welcome Home" is also sung by her towards the end of the show, and is a beautiful tribute to veterans and those who serve in the army. "Nobody" is another standout song from the show, and it's fantastic choreography combined with the voices of Osnes and Cott next to the fabulous music coming from the actors onstage playing instruments, makes it very memorable.
Bandstand is a moving show, reminding the audience of those who serve and the fact that they dedicate every performance to those who serve in the past, present, and future is touching, and a tribute to the families of those people as well. While it fits the typical Broadway show mold, it digs deeper into emotion and one will leave the theater with a renewed sense of hope and patriotism as it truly shows good in our country while reminding us of the negative parts of war and how when the boys came back, there were still challenges to face.