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'Bandstand' on Broadway. Photo by Nathan Johnson.

"Bandstand" on Broadway. Photo by Nathan Johnson.

Acting Alumnus Takes New Musical 'Bandstand' to Broadway

Five alumni are involved in a Tony Award-nominated, swing-filled musical that is currently making waves on Broadway. With music, book and lyrics by alumnus Richard Oberacker (BFA Acting, 1993), Bandstand: The New American Musical features alumni from CCM’s Acting, Musical Theatre and Orchestral Conducting programs.

Directed and choreographed by Hamilton's Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand has been nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards, six Chita Rivera Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Drama League Awards and two Tony Awards.

The musical, set in 1945, tells the story of a World War II veteran who decides to enter a national contest seeking America’s newest musical sensation. He quickly assembles a ragtag jazz band of fellow veterans, along with a beautiful young war widow to be the band’s lead singer, and enters the contest. It’s a post-war Cinderella story told in an era when young Americans were fighting for their identity in the face of a dramatically changed world.

Oberacker has become a successful conductor, composer and lyricist since graduating from CCM's Acting program. He is currently the conductor of Cirque du Soleil’s in Las Vegas. He composed the score for a new musical version of The Great Gatsby, which will premiere in Tokyo later this year.

Richard Oberacker and CCM Professor of Acting/department chair Richard Hess before the opening of 'Bandstand' on Broadway.

Richard Oberacker with CCM Professor of Acting and Department Chair Richard Hess before the opening of "Bandstand" on Broadway.

“Richard Oberacker was born to make music. He is a storyteller by nature, and now America will get to enjoy just how good he is when Bandstand opens on Broadway,” says Richard Hess, CCM Acting Professor and the A. B., Dolly, Ralph and Julia Cohen Chair of Dramatic Performance.
“He has such a big heart, and he inspires excellence in everyone around him. Cincinnati taught Richard how to fly; now he’s ready to soar.”

Greg Anthony Rassen (MM Orchestral Conducting, 2003) is co-orchestrator, music supervisor and music arranger for Bandstand. He and co-orchestrator Bill Elliot recieved a Tony Award-nomination for Best Orchestrations. During his time on Broadway, Rassen has conducted An American in Paris, The Little Mermaid, The Book of Mormon and Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. He is also an accomplished pianist and was featured on the Grammy-nominated cast recording of An American in Paris. He currently holds a position with the New York Pops.

The vocal music arranger for the show is David Kreppel (BFA Musical Theatre, 1992), who is currently the Associate Music Supervisor for The Lion King worldwide and has conducted Aladdin, Sister Act, Rock of Ages and A Chorus Line on Broadway.

Two CCM alumni have roles on stage in this production. Geoff Packard (BFA Musical Theatre, 2004) plays Wayne Wright, the trombonist in the band. His Broadway credits include Matilda, Rock of Ages and Phantom of the Opera, and he has participated in national tours of Wicked and Phantom of the Opera.

Max Clayton (BFA Musical Theatre, 2014) is in the ensemble and is the understudy for Donny Novitski, the male lead. On Broadway, he has been seen in Something Rotten!, On the Town and Gigi.

Max Clayton (bottom left) and the company of 'Bandstand,' including Geoff Packard playing the trombone..

Max Clayton (bottom left) and the company of "Bandstand," including Geoff Packard playing the trombone.

Bandstand is playing at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th Street in New York City. You can learn more about the show at bandstandbroadway.com.

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Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

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