|THE BAND'S VISIT|
They donít make too many Broadway musicals like The Bandís Visit. This enchanting new show eschews Great White Way glitz and sound in favor of an intimate, character-driven story, and itís easily the highlight of a slow fall season.
Based on the 2007 movie, the musical, set in 1996, follows the winding journey of an Egyptian police band whose members travel to Israel to perform at an Arab cultural center but end up stranded in the wrong town in the middle of the desert. The Jewish townspeople take them in for the night and, despite religious differences, bonds are forged.
Composer-lyricist David Yazbek, whose show has already won a number of awards for its Off-Broadway run last year, has crafted a score rich in klezmer and Middle Eastern music. Along with Itamar Moses, who adapted the musicalís book, they carefully get under the skin of their lonely, lost characters, including Katrina Lenkís Dina, a local cafe owner, and Tony Shalhoubís Tewfiq, the bandís leader, both haunted by lost loves.
Elsewhere, Camal (George Abud), another band member, bonds with the widowed Avrum (Andrew Polk) through music, while his daughter (Kristen Sieh) and son-in-law (John Cariani) deal with marital stresses. Haled (Ari'el Stachel), headed for an arranged marriage when he returns to Egypt, helps out young Papi (Etai Benson) on a date with a girl.
Yazbek, Moses and director David Cromer exquisitely capture moments that are small in scale yet life-changing, as characters find, lose and hold on to love. Lenk, who earlier this year appeared in Paula Vogelís Tony-nominated play Indecent, is having a banner year. Her soulful rendition of ďOmar SharifĒ is the showís high point, and the longing that brings Dina and Tewfiq together ever-so-briefly is beautifully depicted.
Although it wouldnít technically be considered an immersive theatrical experience, for 95 uninterrupted minutes, The Bandís Visit sweeps you into the quiet world of this remote desert town. Unlike characters in other Broadway musicals, these folks may speak softly, but inside theyíre overflowing with emotion.
By Diane Snyder
Visit the Site
Katrina Lenk, Tony Shalhoub, John Cariani, Ari'el Stachel, George Abud, Andrew Polk, Bill Army, Rachel Prather, Jonathan Raviv, Sharone Sayegh, Kristen Sieh, Alok Tewari, Etai Benson, Adam Kantor
Preview Open/ Preview Close Dates
Preview Opening 10/7/2017
Ethel Barrymore Theatre
234 West 47th Street
New York, NY 10036