Full disclosure: Take everything I am about to talk about with a grain of salt. Gettin’ The Band Back Together is still in previews so some things might have changed by the time opening night comes along, or who knows, maybe the show is different even as I’m writing this review of it. I normally have a “no review until it’s frozen” policy, but I’m hoping to get the word out because it seems like no one in my age group is talking about it and I think we should be.
Gettin’ the Band Back Together is a new musical about a group of 40-something men getting their high school band back together for a life-changing Battle of the Bands. I know, I know the premise doesn’t exactly scream “young audience,” but hear me out.
Mitch, a Wall Street stockbroker, is let go from his job on his fortieth birthday and has to move back to his mother’s house in New Jersey. Mitch runs into his best friend from high school, Bart, who convinced him to, you guessed it, get their old band back together. Mitch reluctantly agrees and they round up the members of their band, Juggernaut. In a hilariously over the top plot twist, instead of just playing for fun, they get roped into having to play in Battle of the Bands against the band they defeated twenty years prior, or they could lose everything. During their journey to the battle, Juggernaut (Mitch, Bart, Sully, Robbie and newcomer Ricky) find love in unlikely places, and re-find themselves.
Now, you’re probably wondering why on earth a twenty-five year old woman would be interested in a story about middle-aged men trying to reclaim their glory days. There are a few reasons. For one, in a sea of revivals, jukeboxes and adaptations, Gettin the Band Back Together is a 100% completely original musical. It was refreshing to go to the theatre and be excited not because I knew the songs or the story, but because I had no idea what to expect. I miss that feeling.
I’d recommend seeing this show because it is a cheesy piece of theatre, and I mean that in the best way. I feel like the musical comedy has kind of gotten a little lost in the last few years. We don’t see them as often and when they come around, they tend to get overlooked. Sometimes all you’re looking for in a show is a good time and a laugh or two. This show provides that. At least, it did for me.
I’m more keen to musicals if there are characters I can see myself in. It is very rare that I can see myself in every character of a show, and this happens to be one of those occasions, which boggles my mind because almost every character is 40 or older. I think it’s important that younger audiences see this show because it depicts that adulthood doesn’t mean you have it all together, and that’s comforting.
One of my favorite things about Gettin’ the Band Back Together isn't even the story. It’s the theme of not giving up on your dreams, no matter what. Every single character we meet in this show has a secret (or in some cases, not so secret) dream that they gave up on because they grew up. Reuniting with each other made them see that not only were their dreams still alive, but it wasn’t too late to strive for them. I left the Belasco theater on Sunday night and I’m still thinking about that.
I know that Gettin’ the Band Back Together is being marketed to the middle-aged theatre goer, and that’s cool because we really don’t get to see that often. But the way it’s being done almost feels like the show is alienating the younger audiences. A prime example is the $40 for 40+ rush ticket policy. That’s great in theory, but if you look at any rush line, you’ll find that the majority are the young adult theatre goers.
I know that it is very possible that readers aged 16-30 might very well read the title of this article and skip it entirely. But in the event you’ve made it all the way to the end here, I truly think you should give this show a shot.
(Photo credit: the official website)