Broadway’s ‘Bandstand’ Will Shutter After Disappointing Run

Jeremy Daniels

Bandstand, a late entry in the Broadway season that earned choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler his second consecutive Tony Award following last year’s for Hamilton, will close September 17 at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre. It will have played 24 previews and 166 regular performances. Blankenbuehler also directed the show, about a WWII veteran and musician who returns home to Cleveland and, unable to find work, assembles a jazz band composed of fellow soldiers and the widow of a buddy who was killed in action.

“It has been rewarding and humbling to have had the opportunity to bring a completely original and unique kind of musical to the stage,” producer Tom Smedes said, in announcing the closing. “Guided by Andy Blankenbuehler’s vision, my producing partners Gabrielle Palitz, Terry Schnuck and Roger Horchow along with the Bandstand creatives and cast are proud to have a created a show that, in addition to being first class entertainment, has heart, a message and most importantly pays tribute to our veterans. Having opened during a historically crowded season we are gratified to have had an effect on so many lives. We look forward to being able to continue telling this important story with future productions across the country and elsewhere.”

Bandstand features music by Richard Oberacker and a book and lyrics by Oberacker and Robert Taylor. The show stars two-time Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella) and Corey Cott (Gigi) and features Tony Award winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone), Joe Carroll (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Brandon James Ellis (Once), James Nathan Hopkins (What’s It All About: Bacharach Reimagined), Geoff Packard (Matilda) and Joey Pero.

Although Bandstand garnered enthusiastic reviews, especially for the Blankenbuehler’s non-stop staging and the two leading performances, it never caught fire at the box office. In addition, there were questions raised about the monochromatic casting, as Deadline mentioned in its review:

“I have to wonder, given all the feverish, experienced talent involved, how this show about American war veterans and American music, set in Cleveland, was cast without a single non-caucasian among the principals…nearly the entire company is white. Cleveland was a jazz center before rock ‘n’ roll made it famous, and the two are as interlinked as the races that gave birth to them.”

Bandstand is produced on Broadway by Tom Smedes, Gabrielle Palitz, Terry Schnuck, Tom Kirdahy, Roger Horchow, Peter Stern, Michael Palitz, Jane Dubin, David Lyons, Sarah Perot, James L. Nederlander, James & Catherine Berges, Darren DeVerna & Jere Harris, Jeff & Ellen Adler, Nancy & Randy Best, Deep End Productions, Patty Baker, Terry D. Loftis/Scott D. Huffman, Independent Presenters Network/Charles & Lisa Siegel, Rosie Gunther McCooe/J. Scott & Sylvia G. Bechtel, Roy Putrino/Heather Shields, Diane & John Kalishman/Alison & John Ferring and The Shubert Organization in association with Paper Mill Playhouse.

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