Who Was in Bandstand’s Most Unforgettable Audience?

Interview   Who Was in Bandstand’s Most Unforgettable Audience?
 
Laura Osnes and her Banstand castmates brought their show to an off-site location for one of the most meaningful performances to date.
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Laura Osnes Amanda Taraska

When Sing For Your Seniors (SFYS) invited cast members from Bandstand to perform for veterans at a James J. Peters VA Medical Center, they jumped at the chance. “It was super special to get to bring a little bit of our show to them since they may not be able to come to see us,” says Osnes, who plays Julia, the widow of a World War II soldier. “Just to see their eyes sparkle and their hearts light up! The power of music is such a cool thing. Music really does have the power to heal.”

“The most meaningful part of doing Bandstand is the effect it has on audience members who are remembering a grandfather or an uncle or another veteran who had served and come back from combat,” says Geoff Packard, who plays Wayne, a World War II vet. “So the perfect audience for Bandstand are those guys we just played for. These people are the people whose stories we’re telling every night.”

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Cast member Patrick Connaghan adds, “It was great to see how our show affects them and to see how the content we’re creating applies directly to their lives and their experiences. Without them, we don’t have a story to tell. So it’s cool to be able to give something back to them.”

Sing For Your Seniors, a non-profit organization, is in its twelfth year of bringing the joy of music and community connection to senior centers, nursing homes, and hospitals throughout New York City and beyond. Its Bandstand performance this week was the fifteenth in its ongoing series of Broadway Sessions, which has included casts from Fun Home, Kinky Boots, Beautiful, and Chicago.

Read More: BANDSTAND ANNOUNCES BROADWAY CLOSING DATE

“Bringing the music and messages of Bandstand to this audience is what the mission of Sing For Your Seniors is all about,” says Jackie Vanderbeck, Sing For Your Seniors’ producing artistic director. “It’s our privilege to connect these talented and generous performers with seniors who served and sacrificed for our country.”

Andrea Dotto, who led today’s session, says “What makes Sing For Your Seniors so wonderful is that it connects us to why we’re performing in the first place. It gives us an outlet and it brings us back to music and singing as expressions of joy.”

The Bandstand performance was a perfect fit for the Peters VA Medical Center. “It means a great deal to have a Broadway cast visit us, especially telling the story of Bandstand,” said Lauren Byma, a musical therapist at the Center. “This is very special. I know how music particularly helps World War II and Vietnam veterans with integration into society, and the theme of this musical really connects in a special way with these guys.”

Also performing numbers from Bandstand and songs of their own choosing were cast members Andrew Leggieri and Becca Petersen. Will Johnson provided accompaniment on the piano.

Sing For Your Seniors thanks Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for its ongoing support.

For more information visit SingForYourSeniors.com.

And, catch a special livestreamed performance of Bandstand—plus a talkback with the cast of the Tony-winning musical—Thursday, August 17 at 4 PM. Follow Playbill on Facebook to tune in. Click here to read more about the event.

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