There’s a new band in town, and it’s the one you don’t want to miss. The nationwide touring production of The Band’s Visit is settling into the Lied Center for Performing Arts for just two days, and it’s a sight that has to be seen to be believed. Based on the 2007 Israeli film, The Band’s Visit features music and lyrics by David Yazbek and a book by Itamar Moses. After a short stint off Broadway, this charming musical took over the Ethel Barrymore Theater from October 7, 2017 until its closing night on April 7, 2019, and won hearts and 10 Tony Awards during that run, including including the prizes for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. The cast album also won a Grammy Award in 2019.
When a group of musicians from the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra mistakenly arrive in the sleepy town of Bet Hatikva and are informed that all the buses have finished traveling for the evening, they find themselves relying on the bounty eclectic inhabitants to provide room and board. What follows is a moving story with little action, but lots of heart and passion. It’s a stunning character study with hauntingly beautiful music, and it’s proof that impact isn’t dictated by how long you spend with someone.
Janet Dacal gives a memorable and admirable performance as Dina, a role originated by Tony Award winner Katrina Lenk. Although Dacal’s voice was strong, there was a stark contrast between the full resonance of her speaking voice and her higher, more pronounced voice when singing, which was a little shocking at times. His Dina was anchored and gave the public the impression that it served as the backbone of the city. Her portrayal of Omar Sharif was simply breathtaking and the dry humor she presented through her line was wonderfully charming.
And speaking of charm… Sasson Gabay, an Israeli actor who played Tewfiq both in film and on Broadway before taking the role on tour, is absolute perfection in the role. He’s quiet, but he says so much and portrays an inner strength in the little he shares. He has a fatherly feeling that radiates through the theater, and it’s honestly impossible not to love him.
Crooner Joe Joseph takes on the role of Haled, who is an absolute ladies’ man and a fan of Chet Baker… Or at least a fan of the song My Funny Valentine. His little snippets of the song were charming and comedic, but it was his performance of Haled’s Song About Love that was simply captivating. It was a real highlight in a long list of beautifully performed numbers.
Other standout performances were delivered by Ali Louis Bourzgui and Joshua Grosso, who respectfully played Papi and Telephone Guy. Grosso’s voice floated so gracefully in his rendition of Answer Me, a song about waiting for Telephone Guy’s love call, but in reality, it’s about so much more than that. Bourzgui was both charming and showed impressive range and voice in his performance of Papi Hears The Ocean, where Papi explains his womanly issues to Haled and the anxiety he faces when trying to interact with her. them.
There’s so much to say about this beautiful musical, from its script and character development to the thrilling music, but it’s really hard to explain it unless you know how it makes audiences feel night after night. . If you’re looking for a show that will move you, inspire you, and make you believe in the power of kindness, then this is the show for you.
Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade