(Pictured: Robert Taylor. Photo Credit: Marathon Digital)
Robert Taylor who helped write the Book and Lyrics to Bandstand the musical, chatted with RyeTheNewsGuy.com about the show and it's nationwide release in movie theaters. Some other topics included, bringing a show to Broadway, the Tony Awards, and much more! Keep reading for our exclusive interview, below!
Fathom Events is showing "Bandstand: The Broadway Musica on Screen" in theaters nationwide on June 25th and 28th at 7:00 p.m. local time. TIcekts for "Bandstand: The Broadway Musical on Screen" are available on the Fathom Events website or participating theater box offices.
Where did the idea come from for Bandstand?
Well, the inspiration was multiple. My dad was an Army Air Corps World War II pilot. Richard's [Oberacker] family all hails from Cleveland, Ohio. We wanted to write a high octane musical, and we thought the swing era was something that would not only fill that bill, but we also wanted to pay tribute to the golden age musicals of the past and see if there was a way that we could use those kind of classic golden age musical troupes but tell a story that was absolutely gritty and real, very much like the movie, The Best Days of our Lives, which has also really inspired us, and revisit this whole idea of the greatest generation as having been the generation of heroes that came back home and they just moved on with their lives, and there were never any problems.
Yeah, and on top of that they had to deal with things differntly then they do today. There wasn't the resources that we have today.
Exactly, there was no Oprah. It was pre Oprah, there were no groups to talk to. You weren't supposed to admit that you were traumatized in any way. You were just supposed to kind of zip your lip and move on with your life. All of these guys had so much to deal with, a lot of them ended up dealing with it through alcohol or aggression. I remember there were the fathers of other kids I grew up with who were constantly getting into bar fights.
What was it like writing for Broadway? Was the process hard and what did you learn from all of this?
The process for Bandstand was so fast. We put pen to paper only four years before we began rehearsals for the Broadway production.
Oh wow, It was only four years before the Broadway production?
Yeah. From the initial idea, to beginning writing it, to the completed first draft. The first draft we had completed including all of the initial songs, was within three months of the initial idea...
That's unheard of for a Broadway musical to be only about four years and a few months to get songs written. I mean, there are some musicals that have taken close to almost ten years to just even make and songs that have taken just as long!
Many of my own musicals have taken a long time. And Bandstand just happened really quickly, and the moment we finished the first draft we went, "Oh my God," this is a perfect musical for Andy Blankenbuehler."
Richard [Oberacker] and Andy [Blankenbuehler] have worked together, and they've known each other since high school days. Richard contacted Andy, and sent him the first draft of the script, and Andy said, "I'm in." So, we started!
(Director/Chreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. Photo Credit: Marathon Digital)
That must have been amazing because I mean, c'mon, it's Andy Blankenbuehler,famed choreographer and Tony Winner for Hamilton. His dancing is top of the line and out of this world. So, you must have been thrilled to have him sign on!
We were absolutely thrilled. This was, of course, two years before Hamilton was even really on anyone's horizon. We also sent the script out to a number of regional theaters who instantly said, "We want to do a reading of this." And so, our very first reading was in September, we finished the first draft in March, so it was basically about six months we had a full 24 hour equity reading of the musical that Andy choreographed. A year after that we had an extensive month long workshop at Lincoln Center and a year after that we opened at Paper Mill [Playhouse], and a year and a half after that we opened on Broadway.
But, switching gears now. The show, unfortunately, had a short run on Broadway. But the songs of the Donny Nova band have become a hit with the stars Corey Cott and Laura Osnes performing them throughout New York City. How does it feel to still be able to bring that music of Bandstand and the Donny Nova band to people?
Well it's incredible. I mean, the cast album really hit a wide release, and I think a lot of people suddenly sat up and took notice, and said, "Oh my God I want to see this show." And were hoping they could get to New York before it ended. It was about a six month run that we had in New York. It's been great going to Birdland and these other venues where The Donny Nova Band is now performing all on it's own. I'm back and fourth, both Richard and I are back and fourth between New York and Las Vegas, and the Donny Nova band is now touring the country. They have two performances, or I think three performances coming up in Buffalo, and Cleveland, they have two performances in Vegas on July 21st that I'm going out for. And they're getting booking all over the place which is so wonderful.
So the big news, of course, is that Bandstand is going to be shown nation-wide on the big screen, in theaters. Are you excited for a new group of people to get to experience the show, who couldn't see it in New York City?
I'm so thrilled. And so many of my friends that live out on the West Coast or down in the Southeast, or in the Northwest they are so excited they're gonna get a chance to see it, because they wanted to come to New York and see it, but didn't get a chance to before it closed. So now it's going to be all over the country, and that's true for all these members of the cast and crew. I've been hearing from people, like, Max Clayton who hails from somewhere in New Hampshire saying that, the theaters in New Hampshire that the theater's there have been sold out for like the past month and a half, so it's really wonderful.
So you've done Broadway, now what is next for you? Do you have any new pieces in the works? Another stop on Broadway maybe in your future?
Well, Bandstand was our fifth show that Richard and I wrote together, and our fourth show that we wrote together called, The Sandman, may be on its way into New York in the next year or so. And then we have a whole new project that we are very very excited about, for which Kevin McCollum is the lead producer that we are very close to securing the underlying rights for. And so who knows? Maybe that will come in too.
Well that's always good to hear.
It's very excting.
So, this next question is from one of our Twitter followers. Patricia on Twitter asks, "Do you have input on a DVD/Blu-ray release?"
Well, it was amazing at the theater, we had this wall of veterans backstage at the theater that... Not only veterans related to cast members going back generations, but also veterans who had come to the show and were really moved to come backstage, and talk to the cast, and tell their personal stories to the cast. And that happens almost every night at the theater. It was incredible. The fist part of your question, once again, or her question, was about the Blu-ray and DVD. I know that there's some sort of an exclusive that Fathom Event has on the film for like the next three months, but I believe after that the producers will be exploring things like Blu-ray and DVD release, and live streaming, and possibly PBS. I think they're going to explore all those options.
Are there any plans for Bandstand to hit the road for a national tour?
I hope so. I do not know where things stand exactly on that front. That's way above my pay grade. That's what the producers are trying to work out. I know they're still working on it. So... It's certainly the hope, and it's certainly the hope that this film will help make that national tour more of a reality
What advice do you have for people who are trying to get their work to Broadway?
I just think if you have an idea that you're really passionate about, just pursue it. Bandstand just happened to click. I can't give anybody any magic formulas. I mean, certainly Andy Blankenbuehler was a huge part of the success for us. And the show, I think, itself really captured the imagination of the producers who are 100% behind it, and just totally committed. Who all had veterans in their families themselves...
So I would say that. If you have something you're absolutely passionate about just go for it. Because even if it doesn't run longer than six months on Broadway it still was there. It was there on Broadway, and no one can ever take that away.
Well, you're exactly right. No one could ever take that away, and you get to say that your work was actually on Broadway in New York City.
And that it won the Tony for success in Choreography.
Yes, I forgot about that. It's very true. That must've been exceedingly special.
It was incredible, the entire company was on such a high when that happened that night. It was an amazing night. So, I was thinking about that just a week and a half ago when I was watching the Tony's thinking, "Wow. We were on that stage last year."
Thank you so much for chatting with me, Robert Taylor!
Although only lasting six months on Broadway, Bandstand won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Chreography from Director/Chreographer Andy Blankenbuhler (HAMILTON, In The Heights) and starred Corey Cott and Laura Osnes.
(Corey Cott and Laura Osnes. Photo Credit: Marathon Digital)