An Egyptian band gets stuck in an Israeli dirt town for the night. What was supposed to be coughed up as a simple but embarrassing mistake turned out to be a life-changing ordeal for the eight-member band and the astonished residents of the small town.
Songwriter, David Yazbek, whose mother is Jewish and father Lebanese, decided to fuse two cultural backgrounds with his new Broadway show, The Band’s Visit by telling a story about two antagonistic cultures and finding their commonality.
The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra from Egypt was invited to Israel to perform at the opening of the Arab Cultural Center in a cosmopolitan Israeli city.
When they arrive at the airport in Tel Aviv, the group leader, Tewfiq, directs the adventurous officer Haled to purchase bus tickets each member. At the ticket office, Haled asks the clerk for a ticket to the city of Petah Tikvah, but due to his thick Egyptian accent, she misunderstands him and instead sells him tickets to the isolated dessert town of “Bet Hatikva.”
They take the wrong bus to a remote village in the middle of the Negev Dessert. They are then forced to spend the night with the locals, many of whom are initially unfriendly to the Arab visitors.
Luckily, Dina, the cafe proprietor, becomes attracted to Tewfiq, the conductor. The band decides to perform for their accidental hosts and the music is enjoyed by everybody. The two groups form a new liaison, and even though the plot is rather thin, the music and acting is thick with talent.
The play is sensitive and touching and is brimming with hope and humanity. Along with the powerful music, there are many instances of silence where both the audience and cast dissects touching emotions in peace.
With music, there’s dancing. And in dancing, there’s all kinds: tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern.
The Band’s Visit will caress your heart while entertain you. It’s easy to see why it won ten Tony Awards becoming the best Tony Award Musical in 2019.
Even though I played a small role in their transport, I was glad to be a part of the effort to move the show to the south for others in Carolina to enjoy.