Broadway musical sheds light on PTSD veterans face

June 20, 2017 07:08 PM

The Tony Award-winning musical, "Bandstand," is more than first-class entertainment. It's got a mission to help veterans. The book's author and co-lyricist graduated from Niskayuna High and Union College. He spoke with NewsChannel 13’s Benita Zahn about the show.

"They end up using their music to also give voice to the voiceless and it's an incredibly empowering and uplifting musical," explained Robert Taylor.

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Take the story of a group of musically talented World War II veterans, marry that to their challenges reintegrating into the lives they had before the war, add dancing, a competition and you've got the bones of "Bandstand," the hit Broadway musical.

While set in Cleveland, the impetus of the story comes from Niskayuna native, Robert Taylor, who wrote the show's book. His dad and his friends’ fathers were all World War II veterans.

"They were the most wonderful men. They could be so helpful and so incredibly giving and then they could turn on a dime," recalled Taylor.

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That’s why Taylor says the show doesn't shy away from the darkness that enveloped so many veterans.

"PTSD didn't really have a name back then and in addition to not having a name, these guys never talked about what they went through. You weren’t supposed to talk about it. You were just supposed to buck up and get on with your life," noted Taylor.

However, Taylor says it was important to deconstruct the stereotype of the broken veteran, so the creative team partnered with the veteran's service organization, Got Your 6, military jargon for "got your back," to vet every word in the script for authenticity.

"So we are the first piece of theater to receive Got Your 6 certification as accurately portraying veterans’ issues and veterans’ lives," explained Taylor.

While these heartfelt stories are the underpinning of "Bandstand," Taylor says it is, after all a musical.

Got Your 6 earmarks donations to purchase tickets to "Bandstand" for veterans who otherwise wouldn't be able to see the show.

Taylor's among five Capital Region natives with ties to the show, including Tom Smedes From Delmar. His dad formerly ran the Stratton VA hospital. The choreographer for bandstand did the same for that little Broadway hit, "Hamilton."

More information:

Got Your 6


Benita Zahn

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