Saturday, December 7, 2019

review - BANDSTAND - National Tour: Broadway at the Orpheum

Zack Zaromatidis, Jennifer Elizabeth Smith, and Cast
photo by Jeremy Daniel
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through December 8

"...Bandstand focuses on a group of soldiers who have recently returned from serving overseas in World War II. While the show did not have a long Broadway run and there are a few small issues with the book, with an engaging cast, energetic dancing, and bright creative aspects, the national tour, which runs through Sunday at the Orpheum Theatre, makes for a fairly impactful and joyous musical. Set just after the war in 1945, Private First Class Donny Novitski, who is still grieving over the death of his best friend Michael in combat, returns home to Cleveland after serving four years in the Army...persuades some fellow veterans to form a band to enter a nationwide song competition that will honor the troops. Donny meets Michael's widow Julia (and) convinces Julia to join the group as their female singer. This group of strangers uses the bond they form in the creation of the band as a way to heal the wounds of war while also finding a way to move on from their pasts. Andy Blankenbuehler won a Tony for his choreography for Hamilton and he also won a Tony for his high flying, swing-era dances for Bandstand....the numbers are not only infused with energy but also all danced very well. The upbeat jazz and swing-infused score...features engaging, period perfect music that harkens back to the big band era, along with songs in the style of the Great American Songbook. ...The simple but fairly effective book by Taylor and Oberacker does an excellent job of weaving their engaging songs around a fast and moving plot, and it fleshes out the characters of Donny and Julia. However, the book doesn't quite do justice to the other members of the band, who are not written as fully three-dimensional characters. ...Fortunately, this non-Equity touring cast is excellent. Not only do they each create unique portrayals, but those who play the members of the band are also adept at playing their own instruments. Zack Zaromatidis does an exceptional job in depicting the shell-shocked, troubled and cocky Donny. ...Zaromatidis' singing voice is clear and powerful...As Julia, Jennifer Elizabeth Smith beautifully portrays the similar pain and hope that Donny feels, yet with Julia it's in trying to find a way to survive in her new life without her husband. ...Smith's singing voice is bright and clear and she injects a large dose of empathy into her soulful and soaring vocal delivery...."   -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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