Rob Taylor and Tom Smedes have been to Proctors dozens of times, but this weekend's visit will be special.
Taylor, a Niskayuna grad, and Smedes, who went to Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, are up from New York visiting friends and family. Both will be in downtown Schenectady at some point Friday or Saturday to see "Bandstand," the Tony Award-winning musical they can call their own, Taylor as a co-writer and Smedes as the major producer. The show, which won a Tony for Best Choreography and was nominated for Best Orchestrations, will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and again at 2 and 8 p.m. on Saturday.
"Years ago I performed on the Proctors stage with different orchestras, but I never imagined one of the shows that I had written would end up being at Proctors as part of a national tour," said Taylor, who still plays professionally with various orchestras as a violinist. "It is pretty incredible. We're all very excited."
Smedes, meanwhile, while never a performer, is also very familiar with the Proctors stage.
"I went quite a bit as a kid, and when I would come up and visit my parents we would often go to Proctors to see a show," said Smedes, who has 12 Broadway shows on his resume, either as producer or associate producer. "So, obviously I'm thrilled that 'Bandstand' is going to Proctors. It did very well on Broadway and we knew it would have a national audience. We knew the subject matter would be interesting and important to everyone."
The story line revolves around singer/songwriter Donny Novitski, a soldier returning home after World War II. It is directed by three-time Tony Award winner Andy Blankenbuehler, the choreographer for "Hamilton," and Taylor's writing partner was Richard Oberacker. The show is filled with music written to represent the swing era, and it is the fifth collaboration between Taylor and Oberacker. Another musical of theirs, "The Sandman," will soon get a full production in Las Vegas this fall.
"I still make a living as a violinist, but I am devoting more time now to writing musical theater," said Taylor, who grew up in Porter Corners in Saratoga County but rode to Niskayuna each day with his father, a middle school science teacher in the district. "I'm in the same apartment I've been in for six years, but up until last year we still had a house in the Stockade in Schenectady. It's been busy writing and traveling around the country, but I still have a lot of reason to come back to Schenectady. I was just there last week to see the Blue Man Group, and I was there last year to see 'The SpongeBob Musical.'"
Taylor got out of Niskayuna High in 1974 and four years later graduated from Union College. Smedes, meanwhile, grew up in the Delaware Avenue area of Albany before his family moved out of the city to Selkirk. He graduated from Maginn in 1981 and then went to New York University and created his own major in theater administration and business.
"I was never an actor and never thought about being an actor," said Smedes. "But I knew I always liked the idea of creating and producing theater, and going to NYU allowed me the opportunity to study both theater and business. It satisfied both the left and right side of my brain by combining those two things."
Smedes got his start working as a receptionist for a theater venue in New York.
"I went from the proverbial mail room to being a producer," said Smedes, who got his first Broadway credit as a producer in 2010's "Next Fall." "I was a receptionist, a company manager, a house manager, a theater general manager. My parents were thrilled, having paid all that college tuition, that I had a steady job."
Like Taylor, Smedes grew up listening to the music of his parents, and much of it was connected to World War II.
"Both of my parents worked at the VA hospital in Albany, and I had a number of uncles who served," said Smedes. "It's something I grew up around, so we knew that this kind of story would speak to a greater audience. I love the theme of our show. It's about what veterans have to deal with when they come back home, and then not being able to talk about their experience. It's a great story and the performers have been fantastic. It's been on the road for six months now and will run for three more months and then we'll see what happens."
Zack Zaromatidis stars as Donny Novitski, who forms a band made up of fellow veterans also returning home from the war. The group competes in an NBC contest to discover the next musical superstar, and are successful while discovering the power of their voice through music. Jennifer Elizabeth Smith play Novitski's love interest, Julia Trojan.
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: $75.50-$20
MORE INFO: (518) 346-6204 or visit www.proctors.org