The show stars Laura Osnes, who received Tony Award nominations for playing the title roles in Cinderella and Bonnie and Clyde. She also co-starred in the recent hit revivals of Anything Goes, South Paciﬁc and Grease. The show also stars Corey Cott, best known for his roles in Newsies and Gigi. Co-starring is Beth Leavel, who won a Featured Actress Tony Award for originating the title role of The Drowsy Chaperone.
Set in Cleveland in 1945, the show tells the story of a group of World War II vets and jazz musicians trying to make it big by winning a radio contest to ﬁnd the next big swing band. They are led by Donny Novitski (Cott) who faces the challenge of getting his gang of wisecracking fellow soldiers in shape for the contest. He also fulﬁlls his promise to look after his deceased army buddy’s widow, Julia (Osnes), who he ends up falling for – and recruiting to the band. Julia’s beautiful voice with their sound might just give them the edge to win the live ﬁnale in New York – or the complications of post-WWII life might just get in their way.
The production is directed and choreographed by the proliﬁc Andy Blankenbuehler, who won Tony Awards for the choreography of the hit musicals Hamilton and In the Heights, and most recently worked on the new revival of Cats. His work here incorporates the popular dance styles of the ‘40s, like swing and jitterbug. It is the Broadway debut of the team of Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker, who co-wrote the show’s lyrics and book, with Oberacker composing the music. Their score is largely big-band swing music, much of which is performed on stage by the actors.
The Paper Mill Playhouse production received enthusiastic reviews from critics, with AMNewYork calling it “a terriﬁc new musical with an absorbing plot, likable characters, high emotional stakes, a tuneful, big band-style score, and seamless swing dance choreography.” NJ.com said the show might be the Playhouse’s “best show in years,” calling it “a bold, uncompromising musical that jumps and swings with heart, energy, and a refreshing resistance to schmaltz. It refuses to shy away from its own weighty subject matter, while also delivering a rousing score of big-band swing complemented by frenetic dance numbers.”
Previews will begin March 31st, after the Jacobs’ previous occupant The Color Purple ends its run in January. Bandstand tickets are available through Telecharge, where prices range from $59-$159.