THE BAND’S VISIT is an incredibly sweet, yet very human, musical about a group of Egyptian musicians who find themselves stranded in a small Israeli town. It’s a show about unlikely ties as we see Arab musicians bond with those in the small town. There is little conflict, certainly not the type you might expect could arise from such a situation. Instead, this delicate spectacle features magnificent music and a sweet, unusual story.
THE BAND’S VISIT won ten Ton Awards at its Broadway premiere, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Director. It’s a critically acclaimed show with a Grammy-winning cast album. Fortunately, the tour’s production demonstrates that while the show is intimate, it performs well in large tour venues as well.
Based on the 2007 Israeli film, THE BAND’S VISIT has music and lyrics by David Yazbeck and a book by Itamar Moses. The story opens with the Ceremonial Police Orchestra of Alexandria arriving in Tel Aviv from Egypt. At the ticket booth, due to issues with accents and similar names, the men end up with bus tickets to a small town called Bet Hatikva instead of Petah Tikvah, where they are supposed to perform at the opening of an Arab cultural center.
Musicians ask workers in a small town café for their way to the cultural center. Papi (Coby Getzug) and Itzik (Clay Singer) call in owner Dina (Janet Dacal) who ends up explaining to the band’s conductor Colonel Tewfiq (Sasson Gabay) that they are in the wrong town. However, there is no bus until the next day, so Dina offers the group to eat and stay overnight.
Tewfiq and Dina bond over their past relationships and love for Egyptian films (in the beautiful song “Omar Sharif”). Meanwhile, Simon (James Rana) returns home with Itvik and meets his wife and stepfather and the soft-spoken Haled (Joe Joseph) accompanies Papi to his date and tries to give him some advice to calm his feelings down. nerves about women. .
Gabay is an accomplished Israeli actor who also played the role of Tewfiq in the film the musical is based on. It’s very exciting to see him bring his role back to life on stage. Dacal brings Dina a sultry and confident air that suits her character perfectly. Joshua Grosso as the guy on the phone, who keeps the phone waiting for his distant girlfriend’s call, has a great vocals in his song “Answer Me”.
The Arabic influenced music is beautiful and while the songs are awesome, the instrumental music is the star. Many actors also act as musicians and watching them perform is one of the greatest joys of musical comedy. From Dina’s solo “It Is What It Is” to the humor “Papi Hears the Ocean”, every song is captivating for the audience.
The show is beautifully designed from Scott Pask’s stage design to the musicians’ gorgeous light blue uniforms, designed by Sarah Laux. The sets are quite elaborate for a production on tour, with a very well exploited twist.
The plot of THE BAND’S VISIT is fairly straightforward and the entire show is only 100 minutes long, with no intermission. It’s a wonderful show to come back to DPAC with, it’s about connecting with people and the power of music.
All members of the public aged 12 and over must show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status or a recent negative COVID-19 test. For more information visit DPAC website. THE GROUP VISIT is at DPAC until October 10.
Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman, Matthew Murphy