The Tabard Theatre Company opens its 11th season with the world premiere of Bandstand Beat, written by the troupe’s founder and executive director, Cathy Spielberger Cassetta. Under her creative direction, the musical brings back the classic dance tunes of the 1950s and 1960s.

The action takes place on June 19, 1965, the Saturday before Father’s Day. The TV show Bandstand Beat is performing its last show from its native Cincinnati. In a few months, the music show will broadcast from Hollywood. Celebrating 15 years on the air so far, Bandstand Beat relives some of its most popular performances. Singers from the show’s past take the stage to perform such hits as “Money Honey,” “Sh-Boom,” “My Girl” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”

The cast successfully takes the audience back in time to the bandstand era with renditions of old favorites and energetic dancing onstage and with the audience. Audience participation is highly encouraged, as many were moved to their feet by the beats. The Beat Box segment also invites audience members onstage to playfully rate the singers’ performances. To add to the mood of the era, commercial classics are aired during the breaks. A Fluffo Shortening commercial and others cleverly evoke the traditional housewife mentality of the 1950s.

Among the highlights of the evening I attended were singer Anaseini Katoa’s swooning over one of the male dancers from the audience, who fails to return her affection; the men singing a medley of prison songs, including “Jailhouse Rock” and “Folsom City Blues” and a tribute to the Supremes.

The storyline bursts with nostalgia, revisiting the classics of the time, with spirited acts that bring the story of Bandstand Beat to life. Sonny Sparks, played by James Creer, who has performed at Tabard Theatre and South Bay Musical Theatre, was the life of the party as the animated TV host. At times, however, the show seemed quite long at more than two hours, especially since it is about a half-hour show in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Every production at Tabard is designated to a nonprofit group. For Bandstand Beat, the chosen organization is the Alzheimer’s Association. A portion of the proceeds from the concession will go to help those in need.

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