War is never as simple or clear-cut as it appears to be. Those lucky enough to return home in one piece may appear to be fine, but the reality is often quite different.
In the new Broadway musical, Bandstand, Donny Novitski (Corey Cott) has just returned from World War II. A musician before the war, music is the only thing that quiets the dark memories of his war-time experience. When he hears that NBC is holding a contest to discover unknown bands, he jumps at the chance to enter. But while he is putting his band together, Donny has another task to strike off his to do list: checking on Julia Trojan (Laura Osnes) the widow of one of his friends who was killed in the war. Julia is a singer, but only sings in church. Donny convinces her to consider the idea of joining his band. Music maybe the one thing that heals their broken hearts, but do they have the drive and the talent to actually win the contest?
I saw the show the other night and I walked out singing the songs. It’s one of the best new musicals that I’ve seen in a long time. My original impetus to see the show was that I love swing and big band music. I enjoyed it because there was a level of realism, especially when it comes to the agony of war and the PTSD that many soldiers have to deal with then they return home. The show is funny, charming and very entertaining. I also find it impressive that the actors are playing their own instruments instead of pretending to play prerecorded music.
I absolutely recommend it.
Bandstand is at the Bernard B. Jacobs theater at 242 W. 45th Street in New York City.
For millions of immigrants, Ellis Island was more than the gateway to America. It represented the opportunities and freedoms that did not exist in their previous homelands.
In the 2006 movie, Golden Door, Salvatore Mancuso (Vincenzo Amato) is a poor farmer from Sicily whose wife has died. Together with his surviving family, they hope to emigrate to America. On the ship bound for Ellis Island, he meets Lucy Reed (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who hopes to enter the US as a Mrs. and not a Miss. They agree to marry. But when they get to Ellis Island, both Lucy and Salvatore are in for a rude awakening. Before they can leave the island and truly become Americans, they have to pass a series of examinations and hope that the customs officials are satisfied with the results.
Like many Americans, my immigrant great-grandparents were part of the millions who passed through Ellis Island. What I appreciate about this film is not just the entertaining narrative, but it sheds on the lengths that many went through so they could truly call themselves Americans.