The Band's Visit: The Beauty Lies in the Simplicity

This Broadway Touring Production is an Absolute MUST
Currently in San Diego Until Sunday, March 6th

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

The company of The Band’s Visit North American Tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade. 

I seriously was living under a rock and even though I saw the praise this musical had on Broadway in 2017, I never stopped to search what it was about and I am so glad it came to San Diego because this is the perfect example of the power of theatre. One of four musicals in Broadway history to win the unofficial "big six" Tony Awards®, The Band's Visit accrued Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, and Best Direction of a Musical. It was also the 2019 Grammy Awards® winner for Best Musical Theater Album.

Based on the 2007 motion picture with the same title, the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra arrives at Bet Hatikvah, a small town in Israel to play at the opening of an Arab Cultural Center. There is a loss in translation as the town they were supposed to arrive is Petah Tikva. Once the band members realize the mistake, it is late and there are no more buses heading out. They come across a cafe and band leader Tewfiq (Sasson Gabay) asks cafe owner Dina (Janet Dacal) if they can get a simple meal at her cafe being that they are short of funds with all the geographical confusion. Dina not only offers the meal but also a complimentary stay because the town is so small there are no hotels. They room with Dina and two other locals Itzik (Clay Singer) and Papi (Coby Getzug). Different stories surface throughout the night with music being the common thread. 

In a little over 90 minutes with no intermission, the story happens in a paced manner, sometimes feeling slow but that is the beauty of it, this apparent simplicity goes deeper exploring the stories of the town locals dashed with frustration in marriage, shyness, love, mistakes, and hope while they intersect with the stories of the band members: arranged marriage, loss and even the metaphor in an incomplete overture musical composition. The other element in the musical that is absolutely beautiful is the use of Hebrew, Arabic, and English with whole sentences at times, and even though I could not catch all of it, that does not matter because it flows smoothly.

Sasson Gabay and Janet Dacal. Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

Having actor Sasson Gabay in the cast reprising the role of Tewfiq, the role he created in the 2007 film, playing it on Broadway and in more than 17 cities on the First National Tour, is worth the ticket price alone. This is like histrionic royalty! Janet Dacal as sassy Dina is bold but also goes with the smooth rhythm of the musical. The company exudes talent in a rotating set that showcases everyone. Joshua Grosso as the hopeful telephone guy who is waiting for his girlfriend to call during the entire performance as well as being funny, has a gorgeous voice as does Joe Joseph in the role of Haled. 
Roger Kashou playing the Darbouka is an absolute beast! feelings that you did not even know you had, will flourish in this performance. The music, the music, the music! A very different, very unique, and rich experience that cannot be missed. 

The cast also includes Yoni Avi Battat as Camal, Kendal Hartse as Iris, David Studwell as Avrum, Billy Cohen as Zelger, Layan Elwazani as Julia, Marc Ginsburg as Sammy, Ariel Reich as Anna, and James Rana as Simon along with Ali Louis Bourzgui, Loren Lester, Dana Saleh Omar, Nick Sacks, and Hannah Shankman.

With music and lyrics by Tony Award®-winner David Yazbek, and a book by Tony Award®-winner Itamar Moses, based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin, and is directed by Tony Award®-winner David Cromer. The creative team also includes Patrick McCollum (Choreography), Tony Award®-winner Scott Pask (Set Design), Sarah Laux (Costume Design), Tony Award®-winner Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Tony Award®-winner Kai Harada (Sound Design), Charles G. LaPointe (Hair Designer), Tony Award®-winner Jamshied Sharifi (Orchestrations), Andrea Grody (Music Supervisor & Additional Arrangements), Dean Sharenow (Music Supervisor & Music Coordinator) and Adrian Ries (Music Director).

Playing until Sunday March 6 at the San Diego Civic Theatre. For ticket prices and performance times please click here.

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