If you watched the Tony Awards this year, you remember the showstopping performance by the cast of Bandstand, a new Broadway musical about a group of returning World War II veterans who double as musicians. Unable to find work, they form a band in hopes of winning a radio contest.And if you’re a loyalist to San Diego’s theater scene, you also probably recognized Bandstand’s star Laura Osnes, who in 2012 landed a Tony nomination for her title role in La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere production of Bonnie & Clyde. Here, we connect with Osnes about the military musical’s takeaways, and the prospect of it touring to San Diego.
Despite being set in the aftermath of WWII, how is Bandstand’s message relevant today?
The show is for people who have served in the past and never got the proper thanks, and for people who are currently serving. It’s for the Gold Star families who have lost someone; their stories are really not told. Especially back then—no one talked about it. There weren’t treatment centers, post-traumatic stress disorder wasn’t recognized, so the fact that we’re getting to explain how it really is and not shy away from the truth is hitting our audiences in a beautiful, powerful way.
Bandstand is the first Broadway show to be “6 Certified.” What does that mean?
Got Your 6 is a great organization that empowers veterans and strives to portray them as valuable members of society. When they come back from service, people tend to view them either as broken or as heroes. We had an amazing conversation with veterans from Got Your 6 who said, “We just want to be viewed as fellow humans.” They have a side branch that works with the entertainment industry and certifies works of art that accurately portray veterans’ stories.
When Bandstand goes on tour, what do you hope San Diego audiences take away from it?
I hope they have a new appreciation for our servicemen and women. I know I do. We go through our lives freely while there are people who are daily making sacrifices for our freedom. The show is also joyful. The dancing is absolutely incredible, the original score is super exciting, the band plays their instruments live onstage. So I hope they walk away dancing down the aisles.
Stay Tuned!The Road Company recently announced that it will produce a national tour of Bandstand. Dates and cities TBA.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel