Google Talks to Cast and Crew of Broadway’s Bandstand

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A performance and Q&A by cast and creatives from Broadway’s Bandstand. Joining us are cast members Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, Geoff Packard, Joe Carroll , Brandon Ellis, Patrick Connaghan, and Andrew Leggieri, along with Robert Taylor (book & lyrics) and Richard Oberacker (music, books, and lyrics).

About the show:
From Andy Blankenbuehler, winner of the 2017 Tony Award® for Best Choreography and the 2016 Tony Award for HAMILTON, comes BANDSTAND—the new musical that explodes with the most high-octane, heart-stopping and best dancing on stage today.

1945. As America’s soldiers come home to ticker-tape parades and overjoyed families, Private First Class Donny Novitski, singer and songwriter, returns 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, inspiration strikes! Donny joins forces with a motley group of fellow veterans, each an astonishing musician. Together, they form a band unlike any the nation has ever seen. Along the way, they discover the power of music to face the impossible, find their voice and finally feel like they have a place to call home.

[MUSIC PLAYING] ALAN SEALES: “Bandstand,” the new musical that explodes with the most high-octane, heart-stopping, and best dancing onstage today– which just won the Tony for best choreography, by the way– [APPLAUSE] The show– yes– the show is set in 1945 as America’s soldiers come home to ticker-tape parades and overjoyed families. Private First Class Donny Novitski, singer and songwriter, returns to rebuild his life with only the shirt on his back and a dream in his heart. So we’re going to get a commercial rolling for you guys to get it started, and then go straight into the performance. [SWING MUSIC PLAYING] ANNOUNCER: Direct off “Hamilton,” Broadway’s hottest director-choreographer creates the best dance on Broadway in the Tony-nominated musical, “Bandstand,” a dazzling, stand-up-and-cheer new musical but should not be missed. “Bandstand,” on Broadway. [APPLAUSE] COREY COTT: Hey, guys. Hey, I’m Corey Cott, play Donny Novitski. Just so you know, we’re all– our cast is currently questioning our life choices by being in Google. This is so cool for us, and are super jealous of all of you. So yes, so the show takes place right after World War II.

My character comes back, is very down on his luck, struggling to find work. My character, Donny, is a piano prodigy-singer-songwriter, dreams of being the next Bruno Mars of the early ’40s. [LAUGHTER] But it’s really hard because I’ve gone to war and gone through a lot of trauma. And I’m trying to figure out how to get my life back on track. So I hear about a national songwriting competition, a swing songwriting competition, that the winner will get to be in an MGM musical with their song featured. And I get this idea of assembling a swing band with a bunch of vets. And so this is the song “Donny Novitski.” [MUSIC – COREY COTT, “DONNY NOVITSKI”] [APPLAUSE] Thanks, guys.

And now I’d love to bring up my lovely co-leading lady, Laura Osnes. Please give a round for Laura Osnes. [APPLAUSE] LAURA OSNES: So I play Julia Trojan in “Bandstand.” And my character is a war widow. I lost my husband in battle in World War II. And it just so happens that he, Michael, was best friends with Donny Novitski overseas. And so Donny comes back and is feeling this responsibility and this charge to check in on his buddy’s wife. And he finds out that I sing in my church choir and ropes me into being the singer of this band of vets that he’s putting together. So I reluctantly join this band and realize that it is actually going to be a beautiful healing thing for my character, as well as everybody else’s characters as well.

I write poetry as an outlet. And Donny is inspired by that and starts setting my poems to music. And we end up singing one of the songs that they write together for the competition, the statewide competition. And so this is the song that they sing. And it’s all about Julia’s desire and yearning and wondering if love will ever find her again. [MUSIC – LAURA OSNES, “LOVE WILL COME AND FIND ME AGAIN”] [APPLAUSE] LAURA OSNES: Thank you. Thanks so much. [APPLAUSE] I’d love to bring Corey back on the stage. COREY COTT: One more thing, actually, just a little tidbit– we actually all play our own instruments in the show. It’s about a swing band. And on that track that Laura so gloriously just sang, we’re actually all playing the instruments on that. So I thought that was pretty cool.

LAURA OSNES: That’s true, Corey plays the piano in the band. And he practiced three hours a day for the last nine months and rocks it on stage every night. And yeah, we have trombone, saxophone, drummer, trumpet– what else? COREY COTT: Bass. LAURA OSNES: And bass! And bass. COREY COTT: Yeah, yeah. LAURA OSNES: So you’ll get to meet those guys in a little bit here. We’re going to do a talkback. But this next song is a duet that we get to sing together in act two. And as you can probably tell, it’s a very complicated relationship that these two have.

The closer they work together and the more the music helps heal them and bond them together, they start to have feelings for each other. But it’s complicated because he was my husband’s best friend. And there’s other difficult things, if you come see the show, to know the past that they have. But they’re also the only two people that knew her husband so well, so they bond over that as well. So it’s tricky. It’s complicated. And this next song– yeah. COREY COTT: Yeah, there’s a moment in the second act where we get a little too close and question the feelings that we’re starting to have for each other. [MUSIC – COREY COTT AND LAURA OSNES, “THIS IS LIFE”] [APPLAUSE] COREY COTT: Thank you. LAURA OSNES: Thank you. COREY COTT: Thanks. ALAN SEALES: Keep it going. All right, the rest of the cast, let’s bring y’all up. So we are now being joined on stage, additionally– I’ll take my seat as well– we’ve got Laura Osnes, Corey Cott. We’re also being joined by Geoff Packard, Joe Carroll, Brandon Ellis, Patrick Connaghan, and Andrew Leggieri, and co-writers Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker.

Did I say that correct? RICHARD OBERACKER: Yeah. ALAN SEALES: All right, cool. Take a seat. Get your water. I always enjoy when the people on stage match the people in the pictures. That’s very– that’s a lot of fun. I want to touch on something that, Corey, you and Laura just said in the setup of that third song, that you played piano for three hours a day for months, right? COREY COTT: Yeah, mhm. ALAN SEALES: So what came first for all of you? Was it learning the instruments for the show, or did the show come and dictate that you had to learn instruments? COREY COTT: That’s a good question.

ALAN SEALES: Or for your life, not the show, yeah. You want to start down there? GEOFF PACKARD: Yeah. I’m Geoff Packard. I play Wayne Wright in the show, who is a marine coming back from the war. But he also plays the trombone. I am an actor first and foremost, but I was in the high school marching band– [LAUGHTER] –as a euphonium player. Any low-brass, kick-ass fans out there? [LAUGHTER] GEOFF PACKARD: No? JOE CARROLL: Lots of then. GEOFF PACKARD: But I went to school for musical theater, and they beat it into our heads that you put everything that you can possibly do on your resume. So I put that I– and I played the trombone in jazz band in high school, so it was my second instrument in high school, 14 years ago.

So I kept it on my resume. And I picked it back up when I did a reading of the show. And they said, we’re going to do a lab now, so just play the trombone for us and we should be good to go. And I went, oh, god. [LAUGHTER] So it was like teaching myself again how to speak a language I barely knew, basically. Does that answer the question? I don’t even remember what the question is. I just love this mic in being here at Google. [LAUGHTER] ALAN SEALES: No, dude. Yeah, so you already knew how to play before you joined the show, yes? GEOFF PACKARD: Basically, I knew nothing.

I played in high school, but anybody who plays a brass instrument knows that if you let your embouchure go or your face muscles that you use to blow it– it’s very tough to pick that up again. So I had to reteach myself over a period of two years to get ready to play with actual musicians in the show. JOE CARROLL: I have a dead mic or something. BRANDON ELLIS: Check. JOE CARROLL: Can I borrow your mic? I’m Joe Carroll. I play Johnny Simpson, the drummer in “Bandstand.” And I was a crappy rock and roll drummer before I started this show– and 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. And I’ve basically grabbed hold of the pit drummer, the guy who plays in the pit, and some other professional drummers in town and tried to get as many lessons as I could.

But I played drums from a very young age, and poorly. And then, sort of similarly to Geoff, picked it up more seriously when we did a reading of “Bandstand” about three or two and a half years ago. But I went to school for musical theater as well. And so I’m an actor first. But from crappy rock and roll drumming to intense swing drumming, I feel like I’m figuring it out slowly. BRANDON ELLIS: My name is Brandon Ellis. I play Davy Zlatic the attractive, young ingenue in the show. [LAUGHTER] And I’m an actor, first and foremost. I started on cello, played that most of my life. Picked up bass around when I was exiting high school, played that for a while. And really started taking it seriously, though, once we started doing this show. In fact, much like your chops, you’ve got to build up calluses to be able to play an upright bass. And during our first final callback, my fingers cracked open and bled everywhere.

But I didn’t stop. [LAUGHTER] Booked it. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] GEOFF PACKARD: So we came in the first day of rehearsal and we all had bloody finger– we cut our fingers, we thought that was the way to go. LAURA OSNES: I’m lucky because I get to sing. I get to be the singer. And yes, I’ve been singing my whole life. I dabble in piano, and I learned eight chords on the ukulele that I play in the show.

But these guys have really worked hard. COREY COTT: Yeah, so I didn’t know– I knew a little bit on the piano, but I pretty much had to learn everything in the show and practice a lot. ALAN SEALES: Really? COREY COTT: Yeah. ALAN SEALES: I thought you’d been playing your whole life. I mean, everybody else is amazing. But you’re featured so much, and I was watching your fingers, and you’re going nuts. BRANDON ELLIS: He’s crushing it. COREY COTT: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it took a lot of sitting at the piano when I was unemployed for a long time and just annoyed my wife every day by playing the same songs over and over and over and over again.

So yeah, when you’re unemployed for a year and a half and you have time to just sit down and play every day, it’s pretty cool. You can learn cool stick skills and stuff. [LAUGHTER] ALAN SEALES: You say you were unemployed for a year and a half. So were you trying to learn piano to get this? COREY COTT: To be fair, I took some lessons as a kid for four or five years. So I knew very basic– I’ve always sang, so I could read music and stuff. But I did not know how to– I could barely do a C major scale. Yeah, I could not do what I do now. It took a lot of time.

PATRICK CONNAGHAN: The two of you guys– ALAN SEALES: So both of you are swings? PATRICK CONNAGHAN: Yeah, correct, yeah. ANDREW LEGGIERI: Correct. PATRICK CONNAGHAN: So we are understudies, and we also swing, which means we cover ensemble tracks. But we both stand by for two of the guys in the band. So I’ve been a trumpet player for close to 20 years now. So I was always trying to book the understudy role, which I did, but on my final callback. It took nine callbacks over a year and a half to get here. COREY COTT: Geez. PATRICK CONNAGHAN: I’d been playing trumpet the entire time to the point where I had all the music memorized when I came in for the callbacks.

And on my final audition, I had my hand on the door, and they were like, what are your skills like on the trombone? And I was like, I don’t play the trombone, but I’m confident in my ability, and I’m willing to learn. I think I could learn the trombone. And they were like, good answer. [LAUGHTER] So I got an email with the offer. And I’m scrolling through, and so I have Nick, the trumpet player. I’m like, great, cool, exactly what I wanted. And then I keep going, and you got Wayne the trombone player, too. And I was like, well, I guess I need to go buy a trombone. [LAUGHTER] So I quit my job. And I had a month of unemployment where I just locked myself in my apartment, and I learned the trombone from scratch.

So I used the foundation that I had with brass instruments and just transferred it to low brass. But yeah, I’ve also went to school for musical theater, so I’ve been singing for a very long time as well. So it’s kind of an amalgamation of all of the weird things that I like to do. So it’s a dream job. It’s great. Andrew. ANDREW LEGGIERI: I’m Andrew Leggieri. I’m also a swing. And a similar story to them– I was an instrumentalist younger, and learned the alto saxophone, and went to college for musical theater, and had to pick it all back up again. And when this came up, I had never touched a tenor saxophone. I rented one for the audition. And then after I got the job, they were like, oh, we’re starting to add some clarinet stuff. I’m like, great, I’ve never, never played that. So I looked up YouTube videos and taught myself how to play.

GEOFF PACKARD: Sponsored by Google. [LAUGHTER] GEOFF PACKARD: I will also– can I add that– so the two guys that they understudied are musicians first. And they are the two musician members of the Donny Nova Band. ROBERT TAYLOR: We call those ringers. GEOFF PACKARD: Yeah, exactly. [LAUGHTER] And they were both in the horn section. So I show up on the first day, and the guy to my right was a trumpet major at Juilliard, and the guy to my left was a composition major at Berkeley, and I played in the crappy jazz band in my high school. [LAUGHTER] But it’s really worked out. And they had not been on stage– one of them had not been on stage ever, and the other had very limited experience. So they did a good job casting a broad skill set so that we were able to lean on each other. Some of them leaned on us in the book scenes or the acting portions of the show, and I certainly leaned on them whenever we were playing musically.

So they did a good job of mixing it so we took care of each other. LAURA OSNES: Good point. It worked It worked for the monkeys, it could work for you guys, too. [LAUGHTER] GEOFF PACKARD: How dare you. [LAUGHTER] ALAN SEALES: Hey, they had two good seasons. Hopefully you will have many more. And also, Andrew’s going on for the role of Jimmy for the first time tonight, so break legs, break legs. [APPLAUSE] Robert Taylor, Richard Oberbacker, the co-writers– where did the two of you guys come up with the idea for this show? How long has it been in the works? ROBERT TAYLOR: It’s about four years ago we first put pen to paper. And we had this idea that we wanted to really pay tribute to musicals from The Golden Age, but come at them from a very contemporary perspective, in that all of the situations that MGM musicals tend to gloss over in a Hollywood fashion, we would actually be honest, the actual circumstances of the characters.

RICHARD OBERACKER: That was really– it was almost like a thesis project, where you basically say– you look at all these MGM movie musicals and The Golden Age of Hollywood, and they’re building blocks of what we know and treasure today. I mean, “Hamilton” is built on all this stuff in a lot of ways. But it was basically like, well, OK, if on the town, the three sailors came back to New York for a day off, but they really were sailors, they really were coming off the battlefield, they really had been through three years of arms being ripped off and heads being blown off and ships going out from underneath their feet, what’s the truth about what this country really went through? And then that led to this idea of, what kind of a country just glossed over so much of this stuff and turned it into the greatest generation when we know, those of us that have these parents that lived through it, they became alcoholics because they’re numb to their pain? And it was just this amazing dichotomy between what we think of and what we hold onto as our mythology from mid-20th century and how we just look at it as this shining, almost Emerald City.

But those of us– you close the door behind it, and you remember grandpa was a mess. And why was grandpa a mess? And so that’s really where the idea was born. So the cliches and the tropes in this story were intended. They just were intended to be looked at from a very, very raw and realistic point of view. ALAN SEALES: And then, so how did it make it from paper into the Paper Mill Playhouse– right?– is where you workshopped it? ROBERT TAYLOR: Yes, we had a number of readings only six months after we finished the first draft. We finished the first draft in about three months’ time. Six months later, we had our first reading here in New York. And many of these people were involved in the very first reading, and then a couple of subsequent readings, and then a big lab workshop at Lincoln Center, and then Paper Mill Playhouse a year later.

And from there, our producers decided we were ready. ALAN SEALES: Many of them are here tonight. They swarmed in for this thing. I love it. [LAUGHTER] RICHARD OBERACKER: They just wanted the food– [LAUGHTER] –which is awesome. [LAUGHTER] ALAN SEALES: [INAUDIBLE] to truck pit. They liked the dessert. [LAUGHTER] So for the cast here, being as young as all of you are, I assume none of you were actually in World War II. How did you prepare for these roles? Did you talk to veterans? Did you get a feel for what they went through? COREY COTT: Yes.

So some of us are wearing these six pins that you guys see. It represents an organization called Got Your 6, which is this incredible vets organization that really attempts to re-fabricate the stereotype of veterans in our society and how they’re actually doing incredible things for our society. They’re not to be pitied or looked down upon. But they’re actually making our society and culture more stable. And so one of the things they do is they look at different pieces of entertainment films, TV shows. And we’re actually the very first stage show to be accredited by Got Your 6 as an accurate representation of a veteran’s story. So they came and saw our show.

And they actually consulted on the script with our writers, and gave us feedback, and have been with us and guiding us for almost our entire Broadway– certainly our Broadway experience even before Broadway, too. And so we had a two-hour sit-down where we, as the cast, the Donny Nova Band, got to talk with them and just ask them anything we wanted to, and they just gave us– there was about 10 vets or so from all different branches, and gave us their thoughts and insight, and were very honest and vulnerable with us about their experiences in combat and losing friends, and how they deal with that. And that by far– that took our entire experience in show and script to a whole other level. But paired with that, we’ve also done our own individual research by reading many memoirs and watching endless documentaries in everything from “Band of Brothers” to “Patton,” everything out there. I mean, there’s so many resources on World War II, especially. But veterans today have been a huge resource for us.

LAURA OSNES: And just last night, we had a group of Gold Star women, wives and sisters and mothers who have lost men in battle. It was just women last night, right? There weren’t the guys then. Formed this organization called, which stands for Tragedy Assistance– COREY COTT: Survive– LAURA OSNES: What’s the P? Tragedy Assistant– yeah, it says on there. Tragedy Assistance– COREY COTT: I’ve got it right here. Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. LAURA OSNES: Program for Survivors, so family members who have survived and had family members that died in having to do with the war.

And we had just an amazing little reception with them last night. And it was incredible to hear their stories. And they were in awe of the show. And we were just talking about how they made a point to say how truthful it was. They could relate so much to so many of the characters, and to my character, especially, because she’s a widow, and just how they felt safe, and that they could laugh with us and cry with us.

And that was really an incredible honor. And I’m fueled to do the show again tonight, because we had, again, one-on-one firsthand interactions with people who have gone through what our characters have gone through, and that’s the really special thing about it. GEOFF PACKARD: And the interesting thing about the research, for me, was that you get cast in a show where you get to play a combat veteran who just comes back from the war. In particular, my character has struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder and is a germaphobe, and really interesting things you get to take on as an actor. So you focus on that. And for the first part of my experience with “Bandstand,” I focused on what those differences were. Then we met with these veterans, and they all told us their story. And it was an overwhelming idea that they wanted to be portrayed as human and not victims or heroes, that they really wanted us to focus on what the human aspect of these people were– they were fathers and sons and lovers and humorists.

And we found it– with this interesting thing with our show, it takes place in 1945. And we have this great device of swing music to really represent that. So a lot of research, also, with learning how to play the instruments. We also had to learn what swing music meant to that time period. And it, in a lot of ways, helped these people get through these horrible things, but also let them release all the fun stuff. And let them act out, a lot like hip hop does now, or real rock and roll. So there was just as much research done on how to be authentic to the swing music, as well. ALAN SEALES: One of the most– go ahead. BRANDON ELLIS: Well, I was going to say something that I think is important to talk about the story, where all of these, like you said, they overwhelmingly want to be portrayed as human beings. And while this subject matter, it’s heavy, and these people are going through some heavy stuff. Humans, in general, are always reaching for light. And this story is about redemption and joy. And while it may– this stuff is a heavy material to be responsible for, the show is very joyful.

It’s very much, everyone is like reaching for light, reaching for joy the entire show. And yeah, we have moments where things catch up with us, but in general, we’re trying to stay ahead of it. So although it may sound heavy, it’s actually a very joyful show. ALAN SEALES: Yeah, that’s what I was going to lead into was, Andy Blankenbuehler, the director-choreographer– choreographer for “Hamilton,” “In the Heights,” the “Cats” revival that’s on right now– he’s just an amazing choreographer. Of course, he won the Tony for it. Congrats again. One of the most touching moments, I think, was there’s this part in– I think it’s an intro to a song. I don’t know if you’re actually singing at the time. But everybody comes in, the lights are down, and everyone’s got weight. There’s another body hanging on them, literally, on stage. And you use the singing, you use the songs to– RICHARD OBERACKER: They’re playing their instruments, actually. It’s a counterpoint, yeah. ALAN SEALES: Yeah, yeah. RICHARD OBERACKER: Yeah, it’s a counterpoint that leads into a rehearsal sequence which leads into a church service.

And Andy physicalized each line. A counterpoint is basically lines that intersect and become a piece of composition. And so he physicalized that on the stage, but each body is attached to other bodies. And the visual image is, you just see the weight, the psychological weight, that each one of these band members carries. ROBERT TAYLOR: Of the men men they left behind. RICHARD OBERACKER: The men they left behind, yeah. You guys could speak to that moment. It’s stunning. It’s part of why he won the Tony. ALAN SEALES: Yeah, it’s one of the most beautiful parts that sticks out in my mind. GEOFF PACKARD: Well, it was interesting.

It was created– that part, it was hit upon, touched upon at Paper Mill, but fully realized for the Broadway production. And we were already deep in rehearsals when we had this moment with these veterans from Got Your 6. And one of the first men who spoke talked about never really recovering from the combat that they went through. But they definitely remember a moment where the weight that they were carrying was lifted. And we all went, wait, that’s what Andy was doing. Not only, actually, because they, I guess, wore flak jackets, a lot of them. And so they had to deal with the idea of being lighter, actually.

But it’s a huge part of the show is weight being lifted. Some of us find our weight– we hold onto that for longer periods of time than other guys in the band. But yeah, it’s a big part of “Bandstand” is weight. BRANDON ELLIS: And one of the interesting things that he does through counterpoint– not to ruin anything when you come see the show– but they’re on us, and as we are– we all have vices that we’ve turned to deal with what is happening to us in terms of what we’re carrying back from conflict. And as the show goes along, and as we’re seeking and finding redemption, those vices switch to the music, which is another thing that the show is really about is the redemptive and healing quality of music. And a lot of veterans turn to art for that reason. And as the show– for instance, myself, the show starts, my vice is alcohol. That’s what I’m using to deal with the pain.

And by the end of the show, it’s the music that I’m using to temporarily give me some relief. GEOFF PACKARD: I swear I’ll stop talking. But if Andy was here, he would say that it’s difficult in a musical, in particular, to tell a story about a generation of men and women who didn’t talk about what they went through. So we’re telling a story about guys who didn’t talk about combat. And Andy, geniusly, uses movement to tell that story while we play. I don’t know how else we would tell that story without– ALAN SEALES: Well, I have a video that I’m going to show, so I can tell it that way. [LAUGHTER] So if any of you guys have any questions, there’s two mics in the aisles. Start lining up during this thing, and then we can cut to you guys as soon as we’re done. How many of you have been staring at Brandon’s tattoo, by the way? Yeah? How many hours did that take? How much pain was that? GEOFF PACKARD: It’s fake.

LAURA OSNES: It’s fake for the show. JOE CARROLL: It’s totally fake. BRANDON ELLIS: Dammit, Geoff. [LAUGHTER] ALAN SEALES: It’s for the show. All right, roll the Tony video, please. PRESENTER: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] PRESENTER: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] PRESENTER: In the armed forces, Got Your 6 means I’ve got your back. I’m proud to say that the organization Got Your 6, which works to empower veterans, has partnered with the thrilling musical, “Bandstand” to highlight the experiences and talents of America’s veterans. [MUSIC PLAYING] [APPLAUSE] PRESENTER: As the daughter of a World War II signalmen and the mother of an army major, I’ve seen how the scars of service can haunt, even in the best of situations. Too many of America’s veterans are struggling to find a new mission in life. Their stories need to be told. “Bandstand” is set just after World War II. As a group of veterans cope with returning to civilian life, they form a band unlike any the nation has ever seen and discover the power of music to find their voice, their purpose, and redemption.

I’m honored to say to our veterans, on behalf of Joe, myself, the company of “Bandstand,” and everybody here tonight, we’ve Got Your 6. [APPLAUSE] Now, featuring the heart-stopping, Tony-winning choreography of Andy Blankenbuehler, please welcome the company of “Bandstand.” [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC – “BANDSTAND” COMPANY, “NOBODY”] [APPLAUSE] ALAN SEALES: I love it when the people in the pictures and on the TV are also on stage. That’s very cool. I’ve always wondered about this, for the Tony’s, specifically– I mean, that must been phenomenal for you guys. A couple of you– Laura– have been there a couple of times, which is amazing. What’s the process for the Tony’s? Do they actually bring set pieces in, or do they recreate them just for the Tony’s? LAURA OSNES: That set is actually a projection, believe it or not.

ALAN SEALES: What? LAURA OSNES: The back of it was a projection, and we brought in, literally, the step, the platform step that we brought from our stage. ALAN SEALES: So after the final Sunday show, Broadway just brings a bunch of set pieces to Radio City. COREY COTT: Most of it, actually, is projection, yeah. ALAN SEALES: Huh. COREY COTT: There’s very few– I mean, we brought our instruments. And they replicated those steps that we had, the platforms. But besides that, most of it actually is– I mean, if you go back and look at the performances from this year, you’ll notice that a lot of it is projection. ALAN SEALES: You just ruined everything. LAURA OSNES: I know. [LAUGHTER] But it’s incredible. They verbatim made a real projection of our set– every picture that’s on there, every detail. I don’t know. They must take a photo of it, and then they legit– GEOFF PACKARD: They know how it worked. LAURA OSNES: Oh, yeah. [INTERPOSING VOICES] LAURA OSNES: We’re amazed at that sort of thing. You guys are like, yeah. ALAN SEALES: You’re the ones who designed it, probably.

LAURA OSNES: Yeah, exactly. [LAUGHTER] ALAN SEALES: How does projection work? [LAUGHTER] I get too– LAURA OSNES: But we all had a matinee that day. So what happens on Tony Sunday is that you go to Radio City in the morning in your costume. You go to the theater and get in costume, go to Radio City, have dress rehearsal, go back to the theater, do a matinee. And then we hung out at the theater, and streamed the beginning of the Tony’s, and then got back in costume, and got on a bus to Radio City, and got off the number before ours, and hung out backstage, and then go, do your number, get back on the bus, go back to the theater. It’s a crazy day. GEOFF PACKARD: The interesting thing is that the majority of the cast that you see perform spent most of the actual broadcast on a bus on, like, 50th Street waiting to go on.

So the stage manager comes out to your boss and goes, you’re on. And then you go backstage, then you go on, and you go back to the bus. It’s not a– COREY COTT: It’s crazy. GEOFF PACKARD: You do get to see– I shook hands with Stephen Colbert. And– COREY COTT: Backstage is crazy at the Tony’s. JOE CARROLL: Geoff Packard shook Stephen Colbert’s hand with his pants around his ankles. [LAUGHTER] He was getting his microphone off, and I was standing– we were getting our microphones off, and Geoff literally says to Stephen Colbert, can I shake my hand even though– what did you say? GEOFF PACKARD: No, I said, well, my pants are down, I guess this is a good time to shake your hand. [LAUGHTER] JOE CARROLL: Colbert looked at him like he had three heads. [LAUGHTER] GEOFF PACKARD: He shook my hand. ALAN SEALES: He’s probably heard that a lot, though.

[LAUGHTER] ALAN SEALES: I didn’t mean it like that, come one. So going back to the military association, I mean, it’s such a strong theme, of course, with the show and everything. Have you, other than I’ve Got Your 6 organization, has there been any audience feedback? Have people come up after the show and hung around? I mean, what have you– what stood out for all of you? JOE CARROLL: There’s a ton of those stories. But one– I mean, you can speak more specifically to it. But one of the coolest ones, there was a guy in the front row who we– we got to curtain call, and he stood up. And he was by himself, and he just started clapping, and he started mouthing to Corey, he’s like, I’m a vet, I’m a vet.

And I think that you just took his hand and brought him backstage. And he was a Vietnam veteran. And he was like, the post-Vietnam era was so anti-military. And he said something along the lines of, this is the first time I’ve felt truly free of– truly proud of being a veteran, that was what he said. This is the first time I’ve felt truly proud of being a veteran. There’s a bunch of those stories. Fleet Week was amazing. When Fleet Week was happening, we had tons of vets in all the time. COREY COTT: Yeah. And even people that didn’t specifically serve, there’s so many stories of them either being related to their grandfathers, or their uncles, or dads, or brothers, or sisters, or moms who have served in some way. And in a lot of ways, I think there’s been an expectation to come see our show with this idea of swing music. And “Bandstand,” you have a certain idea of what this could be. And then you come– and a lot of people have said they’ve come and been taken to an experience, an emotional journey, that they didn’t expect, and felt that not only did they have a good time and felt like they experienced a great story, but that they felt like they honored their relatives, that they were taken to a place that respected them.

GEOFF PACKARD: We also got to meet– he wasn’t a veteran, but he was one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met in my life. There’s a 19-year-old guy named– what’s his name, Rob? LAURA OSNES: Rishi. ROBERT TAYLOR: Rishi Sharma. GEOFF PACKARD: Rishi Sharma. And he was from California, graduated high school, and was obsessed with this mission to meet and record all of the living American World War II veterans that are still present.

And he did the math. There’s something like however many die every day. So he mapped out that there’s four years until they all die. ALAN SEALES: Wow. GEOFF PACKARD: And so he’s been, for the past year and a half– RICHARD OBERACKER: He’s been doing it about two and a half years. GEOFF PACKARD: He goes throughout the country and contacts these men– combat veterans, in particular– and sits down with them, and talks and interviews them for about– ROBERT TAYLOR: And gets their actual stories, their combat stories, on camera. It’s really– RICHARD OBERACKER: It’s like the Shoah Foundation for the Holocaust that Spielberg was heavily involved with.

And so he’s archiving all this stuff. And he’s really the only one in the world who’s doing it. He’s 19 years old. GEOFF PACKARD: And immediately after the show, we’re like, well, are you going to make a documentary about this? And he’s like, no, no, no, I give it to the veterans. It’s not really about what goes into the footage, it’s about these guys getting it off their chest. And so immediately, Corey and I were like, yeah, man, I was feeling good about the story we were telling until we meet this 19-year-old.

But that’s the best part about this show is that there are a lot of– hopefully, when they come and see it, somebody asks a family member, wasn’t uncle so-and-so in the war? What was his story? And that happened to each of us. On some level, we go, yeah, tell me about Uncle Morty’s time in the– and all of a sudden, you get these new stories, or these old stories come out anew. Our director, Andy, came backstage after the Tony’s and said– was it his uncle or his grandfather? COREY COTT: Grandfather was in the 4th Marines and had fought in the Pacific, at Iwo Jima, and all these other places. GEOFF PACKARD: That’s the most common thing is that, I didn’t know, but so-and-so did this, or I didn’t know, but my next-door neighbor was a Gold Star member, whatever.

LAURA OSNES: Yeah, right. ROBERT TAYLOR: And my dad is a World War II vet. And all of the dads of the kids I grew up with were. And there were so many things about them that I couldn’t explain why they were these incredible people that had explosive tempers and that were, very often, in fights and self-medicating. And it’s been really– it’s opened up, for me, just a window into what they were going through, writing the show and working on the show. And that’s what I’ve seen– other people who haven’t served themselves. But it’s opened up such a window of understanding into relatives and family members that– it’s just amazing that they’re suddenly realizing, oh, that’s probably why this man has been so distant all my life, or that’s probably why just the slightest thing can trigger a response I would not have expected. ALAN SEALES: Well, we’re running short of time.

We do have one more performance from you guys I hope that you can give. But I want to take one question over here before we’re done. AUDIENCE: So I know you guys talked a lot about the research that you’re doing to develop your characters, so I guess my question is in regards to an understudy or a swing, how much flexibility do you guys have to make your own choices versus taking what the, I guess, original actor has done? LAURA OSNES: Great question. ALAN SEALES: Great question, yeah. ANDREW LEGGIERI: Good que– I’ll figure that out tonight. [LAUGHTER] Yeah, it would be my first time doing this part with these guys.

And I’ve been with the show for two years, so this is going to be a whole whirlwind of emotions and a whole whirlwind of, am I in the right spot? Am I saying the right line? What’s my next prop? What’s my next costume change? So yeah, it’s going to be a lot of– I think tonight is going to be a lot of, just, what I’ve worked on and what– LAURA OSNES: Hitting the notes. ANDREW LEGGIERI: –and going to be as close to the show as they know it, because otherwise, for me, I don’t know, my mind will be in a million places. So yeah, I think the first time I went on for one of the other tracks, it was very much saying the words, making sure I have a character. And then as I kept doing it– I did it four times so far– I felt like I was able to flesh it out. I was living in it more. And it’s not that I was making different choices from the other actor, but we’re just different people. So it felt like when I was living in it more, I was bringing something to it that only I can bring, where I’m only me.

I can’t really replicate anything. But the more comfortable I feel, then I feel like I can live in it. And it’s probably going to be different, for sure. But yeah, I hope that answered your question. AUDIENCE: Yeah, that was good. ALAN SEALES: You should get it fake tattooed on your arm. You can just look at your arm the whole time with the big wings on it or something. [LAUGHTER] Well, cool. Thank you all so much for coming in. Hopefully there’s one more song you can all sing for us as a group, yes? So everyone, go check them out–

On Instagram and Twitter, @bandstandbway. If you’re taking pictures and want to share them, the hashtag is #strikeupthebandstand. They’re at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, 242 West 45th. Please help me give them a round of applause, and we’ll get one more song out of them. [APPLAUSE] RICHARD OBERACKER: [INAUDIBLE] are moving these chairs is this last song is the end of act one. And you’ve been hearing about this radio contest that they all enter. It’s states, and then nationals. So at the end of act one, they’ve won the state competition.

They’ve believed all along that NBC and MGM was going to treat them like stars and take them to New York and their dreams were going to come true. And right before the song happens, they find out that, no, you have to pay your own way. And in fact, when you get there, there’s another preliminary off-air because the contest is only two hours. So in other words, they’re screwed and they can’t go. And so this song is really about Donny realizing this dream of riding this first-class train that got him through the war– it’s what got him through the battle is dreaming that he gets to take this train, and go to New York, and be a star, and play on the greatest bandstand that New York has to offer is just smashed.

[MUSIC – “BANDSTAND” COMPANY, “RIGHT THIS WAY”] [APPLAUSE] COREY COTT: Thank you, guys. Thanks so much for having us. LAURA OSNES: Thank you guys so much. COREY COTT: Come see “Bandstand.” We’d love to have you. And enjoy being– LAURA OSNES: The rest of your day at Google. COREY COTT: –an awesome employee at Google. This is great. [LAUGHTER].