Veterans share stories with cast of Broadway's "Bandstand"

Posted March 14, 2017 by Matt Mabe

Last week, Got Your 6 led a conversation between U.S. veterans and the cast of Bandstand, an original Broadway show set just after World War II that will open next month. The roundtable discussion centered around the experiences and challenges faced by veterans after they return home from war. The goal of the meeting was to provide a real-world perspective to the play’s actors so they can bring more texture and authenticity to their performances.

Bandstand is a musical theater production that revolves around a group of World War II veterans who have just returned home to Cleveland, Ohio. Each man encounters difficulty adjusting back to civilian life, but they find solace and solidarity with one another in their shared love of music. The men form a musical band and go on to enter a national song contest. It is through this competition that they find purpose and redemption. There is a love story, too, between the band’s leader and a war widow who lives in town.

Bandstand is a play that gets veterans right. The story and the performances capture the essence of what it’s like to be changed by one’s military service and then confront the challenging — but frequently rewarding — path back to normalcy.

Veterans join the cast and creators of Bandstand at New York’s legendary bookstore Strand.

The Got Your 6-led roundtable with Bandstand took place at New York’s legendary bookstore Strand. There, in the third floor Rare Book Room, Bandstand’s actors asked pointed and challenging questions to eight veterans of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, then listened intently as each of them recounted details of their own experiences reintegrating into civilian life. The dialogue was informal, friendly, fluid…and extremely powerful. There was a keen sense among the veterans and actors alike that Bandstand is on to something: That its creators realize that the best characters — and thereby the best shows — are those that dramatize the lives of real people, not stereotypes. As one veteran early in the evening pointed out, “Veterans are fundamentally people, just like you, who just have a different set of experiences.”

The conversation in New York was the latest in a string of engagements Got Your 6 has had with the Bandstand since late 2015. Last year, Got Your 6 periodically provided feedback to Bandstand’s writers as they honed the show’s narrative and songs, all of which were informed by deep research into veteran culture as well as the creators’ own family experiences. In late 2016, Bandstand became the first theater production to be 6 Certified for the show’s reasonable and accurate veteran portrayals.

Today, Got Your 6 and Bandstand are proud to call themselves partners on a shared mission: To highlight the experiences, talents, and heart of America’s veterans through compelling and truthful portrayals in the performing arts.

Bandstand opens on Wednesday, April 26, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. To purchase tickets, visit bandstandbroadway.com.

Matt Mabe is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and theDirector of Operations at Got Your 6.