Next week, Bandstand will take the stage at the historical National Theatre. The Tony-Award winning Broadway musical opens the door to the vulnerability and daily struggles people face returning home from a time of war, allowing the audience to relate to specific characters throughout the show. The performance was originally directed by three-time Tony winner, Hamilton choreographer and Kennedy Center honoree Andy Blankenbuehler.
It’s 1945 and World War II has come to a close as American soldiers journey back home to the life they left behind. Upon returning in a post-war society, Private First Class and singer/songwriter Donny Novitski discovers the difficulty of getting back into the groove of a normal lifestyle.
When he hears that NBC is hosting a national competition to find the next best musical superstar, Donny takes it upon himself to lean into the competition in hopes to bring purpose back into his life along with other fellow veterans. In the midst of pursuing this hope, the band discovers the impact music has on their lives as both an expressive art and influential voice, ultimately bringing back that restful feeling they once held dearly.
Among the stellar cast giving the audience an ultimate Broadway experience is Louis Jannuzzi III who plays the character of Wayne Wright in the impactful musical. Having been involved with musical theatre and acting since an early age, Jannuzzi shared that Bandstand is some of the greatest work he’s been a part of and finds it thrilling to be included in such a stellar cast and crew.
Aside from his trombone playing, Jannuzzi’s character requires extreme acting moments because of the obsessive compulsive disorder his character struggles with throughout.
“While the trombone was definitely an important part of why I got the role, it also does require some extreme acting moments and it also requires some very difficult harmonies for singing, as do all the characters in the band,” Jannuzzi says.
Alongside Jannuzzi is longtime trumpeter Scott Bell who plays the role of Nick Radell, a prisoner of war and known for being difficult to work with while stuck with the feeling that he never received his big break as a musician. Although Bell is new to the acting world, he is used to playing below the stage in the orchestra pit, he has taken this role with open arms and has been learning since day one.
“As a musician, as a trumpet player, I think the hardest thing for me doing the show is the fact that you’re going between a bunch of different things you have to do on stage and then go right into playing,” Bell says. “It’s been a balance of just trying to do all the acting and dancing and then be able to go right to the next thing.”
Although this musical is emotionally packed, it holds many comedic stretches to bring life back into a time that often seemed dark.
This nine-month tour began with its preview in Oklahoma City and officially launched in College Station, Texas. The cast and crew will be visiting 75 different cities during their time on the road, but Jannuzzi and Bell shared their excitement for this one week stop in DC.
“I’m a little biased because DC is my favorite East Coast spot, and my family is flying out from California to see the show,” Bell adds.
“I’m definitely most looking forward to performing on the National Theatre stage. There are so many huge musicals that have debuted, have played, have toured at that theater and it’s been a dream of mine to perform there for a very long time. It’s going to be a great honor to perform a show of this magnitude and this subject matter to the capital,” Jannuzzi says.
Bandstand will run Tuesday, March 3 through Saturday, March 8 at the National Theatre, times may vary. The show is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission and is recommended for ages 13 and up. Tickets and other information can be found at here.
National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-628-6161; www.thenationaldc.com