By Debbie Gregory.
For more than three months, Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre has been home to Bandstand the story of what happened to some of the Greatest Generation after they came home from war.
In Cleveland, Ohio, Private First Class and singer/songwriter Donny Novitski tries to rebuild his life with only the shirt on his back and a dream in his heart.
When NBC announces a national competition to find the nation’s next great musical superstars, Donny enlists four fellow veterans, each an astonishing musician, to start a band and enter the competition. Together, they discover the power of music to face the impossible, find their voice and finally feel like they have a place to call home.
Donnie also meets Julia Trojan, the widow of his best friend who died in the war in a friendly-fire incident. The emotions of the show’s characters run from grief over the loss of fellow soldiers to survivor’s guilt for being able to come home while others didn’t; and nostalgia for their pre-war lives and dreams.
Showrunners Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor, along with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, used song and dance to portray the real struggles that soldiers face when they leave the battlefield.
To make sure they were being authentic, Oberacker and Taylor reached out to Got Your 6, which unites nonprofit, Hollywood, and government partners to empower veterans and certifies that portrayals of veterans in pop culture are accurate.
Through their association with Got Your 6, Oberacker and Taylor were able to introduce the entire cast to veterans whose stories helped inform the actors on how best to portray a former service member or a Gold Star wife.
“At the end of the day, our show is about taking an adversity, whether it’s having been in a war, or getting cancer, or losing a loved one, or whatever it may be …. and turning it into the very thing that gives your life a purpose,” Oberacker said. “The way they learn how to take this adversity and give their life purpose is by telling the truth.”