In 1946, William Wyler directed The Best Years of Our Lives, the story of some of America’s returning World War veterans and the struggles they faced returning to civilian life. The movie won seven Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Harold Russell, a veteran who lost both hands in the war. He was one of only two nonprofessional actors to win an Academy Award.
On Oct. 29 and 30, Bandstand, a musical that tells a similar story, kicks off its first national tour at Texas A&M University — a fitting place to start such a musical.
Presented by MSC OPAS, Bandstand will be at 7:30 p.m. both nights in Rudder Auditorium.
Tickets are $28 to $90, available at the MSC Box Office on the first floor of Rudder Tower, by calling 979-845-1234 or going online to boxoffice.tamu.edu.
Bandstand is the story of a group of veterans returning from World War II and dealing with the lasting effects of the war, including what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt.
An OPAS press release said, “Originally directed and choreographed by three-time Tony winner and Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, featuring music by Richard Oberacker with book and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker, this poignant and inspiring new American musical explodes with infectious music and high-octane, heart-stopping dancing.”
The release said, “Private First Class Donny Novitski, singer and songwriter, struggles to rebuild the life he left behind. When NBC announces a national competition to find the nation’s next great musical superstars, Donny sees a lifeline for himself and some fellow veterans that gives them the purpose they so desperately need.
“Together, they form a band unlike any the nation has ever seen. Along the way, they discover the power of music to face the impossible, find their voice and finally feel like they have a place to call home.”
Bandstand opened on Broadway in 2017 and won a Tony for Best Choreography, as well as a Drama Desk Award and a Chita Rivera Award for choreography.
The national tour cast will star Zack Zaromatidis as Donny Novitski and Jennifer Elizabeth Smith as Julia Trojan. They will be joined by Roxy York, Rob Clove, Benjamin Powell, Scott Bell, Louis Jannuzzi III and Jonmichael Tarleton. The cast also includes Shaunice Alexander, Beth Anderson, Michael Bingham, Milena J. Comeau, Ryan P. Cyr, Sarah Dearstyne, Michael Hardenberg, Andre Malcolm, Kaitlyn Mayse, Matthew Mucha, Mallory Nolting, Taylor Okey, Katie Pohlman, Oz Shoshan, and Cameron Turner.
Bandstand is sponsored by the Brookshire Brothers Charitable Foundation.
Parents are warned that the show contains strong language and may not be suitable for younger children.