The Band Wagon at New York City Center Encores!

By Morgan Wu

The Band Wagon stunned audiences from Nov. 6- 16!

If there was ever a time to hop on the musical theatre bandwagon, it is now.

Last month, I had the pleasure of seeing Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tony Sheldon, Laura Osnes, and more in the New York City Center’s production of The Band Wagon. Based on the 1953 MGM film, The Band Wagon is a classic show-business tale of a Hollywood producer (Mitchell) who attempts to make a career comeback by doing a Broadway show. Along the way, he works with a colorful cast of characters, including an eccentric director who has never worked on a musical before (Sheldon), a leading lady making her musical debut (Osnes), her stubborn boyfriend and choreographer (Michael Berresse), and a bickering husband-and-wife, composer-and-lyricist pair (Michael McKean and Tracy Ullman).

The Band Wagon is the perfect show for your average musical theatre fanatic because it is, in its most basic format, theatre about theatre. Audience members with experience backstage may find themselves chuckling along at the characters’ roadblocks along the journey of trying to open a successful show, while those with less knowledge of backstage workings may find the production to be an eye-opener.

Beyond the plot, however, is the well-selected cast, who pull the entire show together. Brian Stokes Mitchell is irresistibly likeable as Tony Hunter, swaying the audience to root for his character from the second he appeared on stage. The same can be said for Laura Osnes as Gabrielle Gerard, whose lovely soprano and sweet character easily wins over the audience. For a surplus of comic relief, which The Band Wagon readily supplies, are Lester and Lily Marton (McKean and Ullman, respectively), whose constant bickering provides for many laughs, as well as a pulling on the heartstrings through audience concern for the couple’s future. Another source of comic relief is the brilliant director Jeffery Cordova (Sheldon), whose eccentricities kept the rest of the audience and me laughing through the night.

I was fortunate enough to catch this production of The Band Wagon during its Encores! run, it has since closed at the New York City Center. However, the production is eyeing a Broadway transfer for the next production season, so if you get a chance sometime then, do hop on the bandwagon and buy a ticket to see The Band Wagon.

Morgan Wu is a first at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing

Image courtesy of NewYorkCityTheater.com

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