“This is Life:” 3 Real-World Lessons I Learned from Watching the Live Recording of BANDSTAND in Movie Theaters

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel.

This week, on June 25th and 28th, Broadway’s delightful and endearing musical BANDSTAND danced into movie theaters across the nation.

The film, sponsored by Fathom Events, was a live recording of one of the show’s performances at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway from 2017, and featured Laura Osnes as Julia Trojan and Corey Cott as Donny Novitski.

A story of love, music, and the meaning of success set in post-WWII America, BANDSTAND has the honor of being the first ever theater production to receive certification by Got Your 6, an organization advocating authentic portrayals of military veterans in the entertainment industry.

BANDSTAND is a rousing musical filled with 1940s-inspired catchy tunes and lively dancing. But beyond this, 3 important life lessons resonate in the heartfelt plotline—lessons that can serve to remind us how to be our best selves. Check them out!

  1. Honor Veterans

The show, set in 1945, follows Donny Novitski—a Private First Class of the 37th Army Division—as he tries to return to normal life after experiencing the horrors of war.

The first song in the show, “Just Like It Was Before,” perfectly sets up his desire for normalcy that is a recurring theme throughout the rest of the show. In it, Donny is searching for work as a musician after he returns home from the military, but is turned down by employers favoring younger performers.

This was a genuine plight among some returning WWII vets: their former jobs were now occupied by others, or they were in competition with younger candidates for new jobs. Many were unemployed after serving our country, and their hard times continued for years. Ironically, while everyone else in our country was seemingly celebrating America’s victory in the war, some of the veterans who had won America’s freedom were in despair.

BANDSTAND reminds us of this: our American heroes gave so much for our country. They deserve to be repaid with kindness and admiration and respect by each and every one of us.

  1. Stay Motivated

At the beginning of the show, as Donny Novitski searches for work, he sings a self-titled anthem expressing his desire for success. He laments that it’s tough for an ‘unknown’ to find work in the entertainment industry. After a spell of hopelessness and self-doubt, he creates a plan to “rise” to the top.

There’s a lesson here: however hopeless things may seem, there are always opportunities that can arise and give you a chance to succeed. It is very easy to give up in the face of challenges, but doing so robs you of the opportunity to learn and grow. If you stay motivated and make a plan to accomplish your goals, you will reach them.

So, stay motivated! Dedication and perseverance are key, no matter whether you’re auditioning for a role, learning a new dance step, or pursuing a career in music!

  1. Forgive

One of the characters in BANDSTAND faces a big decision: does she forgive someone who caused her a great deal of pain, or live with the grudge and lose a friend?

This dilemma—whether or not to forgive someone—is a familiar one. Whether it’s a silly disagreement about a TV show, or a painful fallout because of cruel gossip, many of us know what it feels like to experience conflict with a friend. Do we forgive them, or choose to drop the friendship?

This decision is personal and individualized. It’s important that you take a step back so you can analyze the situation with fresh eyes. Sometimes, disagreements seem much more problematic when they’re first experienced, and then fade away in a few days’ time.

So, if you’re faced with a friendship problem, try looking at it with an attitude of forgiveness. Ask yourself: How would I feel if I was my friend in this situation? How would I want to be treated? How is this problem understandable, from both of our sides? Is it possible for us to talk about it, resolve it, and move on?

Forgiving someone and moving on with the relationship can build it back stronger, making the friendship more resilient and more cherished than ever.

Whether you saw it on Broadway or in the movie theaters, these 3 important lessons from Broadway’s BANDSTAND are ones to learn and live by.

Remember, Camp Broadway: “Breathe,” and take “First Steps First.” Respect, motivation, and forgiveness go a long way!

Can’t get enough of Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, and the musicians of BANDSTAND? You’re in luck! On July 2nd, they will be performing at the Academy of Theatre Arts Performing Arts Center in New York to celebrate the 4th of July and the Academy’s brand-new Broadway Concert series! Part of the proceeds will be donated to The Telling Project, an awesome veteran-centered theater nonprofit. More info about the concert here!

Did you find positive messages in BANDSTAND? Share them in the comments below!

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