The Band’s Visit is an exquisitely beautiful, quiet musical. It may seem contradicting – for a musical to be quiet, it is exactly what makes The Band’s Visit so special, and why I think it won 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. This is because sometimes you need to be quiet in order to allow the story, and relationships to shine through. In this case the brief relationships of passing strangers, which regardless of the brevity are powerful, leading to a shift in understanding and perception between all parties involved.
The parties involved in this story are the residents of Bet Hatikva, a small Israeli desert town and the Egyptian members of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra who intended to go to Petah Tikva. The band lead by Tewfiq (James Rana) is greeted by café owner Dina (Chilina Kennedy), who gives them food and helps the band members find homes to stay in for the night, before catching a bus in the morning. In the one night that the quiet town spends with the band a café owner shares conversation with someone with similar interests, a young man gets dating advise, a married couple face the strain on their relationship and a young man waits at the phone for a call from his girlfriend.
These small but powerful moments are told through a mix of dialogue (book by Itamar Moses) and hauntingly beautiful music (music and lyrics by David Yazbek). The music is a good mix of songs in the style of the area the show takes place and in a style that will sound more familiar to musical theater goers. All of the songs had the effect of feeling that they engulfed my whole being, and the song “Answer Me” felt as though it pierced through me, and I was very close to tears. The different scenes were punctuated with upbeat instrumental music that is played by musicians on stage. If you go to see the show be sure to stay until after the bows to hear the full band in all its glory playing the concert that brought the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra to Israel in the first place.
The Band’s Visit is playing at the Orpheum Theater through this Sunday, December 15th. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a beautiful and meaningful piece of theater to attend as we are approaching our darkest time of the year. If you can afford getting tickets closer to the stage, I recommend it. This is a quiet and intimate show, and the Orpheum is a very big theater (more than double the size of most Broadway theaters). This size allows for a larger audience to see great theater but it can also reduce the powerful intimacy of shows like The Band's Visit. Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets. Go and see it while you still have a chance!
*Photo by Matthew Murphy