Broadway By Design: Scott Pask and Sarah Laux Bring THE BAND'S VISIT from Page to Stage
Who is Annie without her red dress? Or Eva with out her balcony? It is the charge of the Broadway designer to transport the audience into the world of a show, whether it be Great Depression-era New York City or outside of the Casa Rosada.
In Broadway by Design, BroadwayWorld is shining a spotlight on the stellar designs of this Broadway season, show by show. Today, we continue the series with Scott Pask and Sarah Laux, who acted as scenic and costume designers for Broadway's moving new musical, The Band's Visit.
After a mix-up at the border, an Egyptian Police Band is sent to a remote village in the middle of the Israeli desert. With no bus until morning and no hotel in sight, these unlikely travelers are taken in by the locals. Under the spell of the desert sky, their lives become intertwined in the most unexpected ways. The Band's Visit celebrates the deeply human ways music, longing and laughter can connect us all.
So where did the design process begin? Pask found inspiration in the landscape. "The expansiveness of the desert of Israel, the city and towns made of the materials of that desert- concrete and stucco from the sand upon which these modernist and sometimes brutalist buildings arise-and the ever present horizon line were all very influential visual elements in the scenic design process for The Band's Visit."
"The biggest challenge was to seamlessly present the constantly shifting series of locations in the show, giving them the specificity of decor and character, and an ever shifting geography onstage, so that, like the characters in the play, we can recognize or relate to them throughout our journey," he explains.
"Dissolving each setting before the next was intended to be like a series of mirages in the desert, each sequence looking effortless. In fact it is an incredibly complex series of maneuvered and designed events both onstage and backstage to accomplish this seemingly effortless flow of scenes," says Pask.
Laux's costume inspiration came from real life. "Looking at old family photos of people in Israel, especially people in the kibbutz communities, was my entry into the world of the clothes and the people in Bet Hatikvah," she says. "I was also influenced heavily by the actors in the rehearsal room and their specific physicality and acting choices."
"The biggest challenge was the time period: 1996. That time period is heavily featured in the fashion of today and I had to make sure the characters didn't feel at all American and that the clothing didn't feel "new" in any way. Also, most characters only have 1 or 2 looks so the costumes needed to inform the character without being distracting."
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The Band's Visit landed on more BEST OF 2017 lists than any show this year including being honored by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Time magazine, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, Deadline, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Time Out New York, New York Observer, Forbes, The Wrap, Broadway.com, Buzzfeed, Thrillist, Daily Beast, Huffington Post and Asbury Park Press.
The Band's Visit features music and lyrics by David Yazbek, a book by Itamar Moses, is based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin, and is Directed by David Cromer. The Broadway company ofThe Band's Visit includes Katrina Lenk, Tony Shalhoub, John Cariani, Ari'el Stachel, George Abud, Etai Benson, Adam Kantor, Andrew Polk, Bill Army, Rachel Prather, Jonathan Raviv, Sharone Sayegh, Kristen Sieh, Alok Tewari, Pomme Koch, Ahmad Maksoud, Madison Micucci and James Rana. Musicians include Andrea Grody, Alexandra Eckhardt, Ossama Farouk, Philip Mayer, Sam Sadigursky, Jeff Theiss, Harvey Valdes and Garo Yellin.