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Review Roundup: THE BAND'S VISIT National Tour Takes the Stage; What Did the Critics Think?


The tour returned to the stage at the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham, NC.

The Band's Visit

The North American tour of the 10-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical THE BAND'S VISIT, featuring music and lyrics by Tony and Drama Desk Award®-winner David Yazbek, has hit the road! The tour returned to the stage at the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham, NC.

Award-winning Israeli film actor Sasson Gabay reprises the role of Tewfiq, the role he created in the 2007 film of THE BAND'S VISIT and has played on Broadway and in more than 17 cities on the First National Tour. Joining him to lead the company is the critically acclaimed actress Janet Dacal (Prince of Broadway, Wonderland, In The Heights) in the role of Dina.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Durham Performing Arts Center - Durham, NC

Nicole Ackman, BroadwayWorld: Gabay is an accomplished Israeli actor who also played the role of Tewfiq in the film that the musical is based on. It's very exciting to get to see him bring the role to life again onstage. Dacal brings a sultry and confident air to Dina that is perfect for her character. Another standout of the cast is Joshua Grosso as the Telephone Guy, who guards the telephone waiting for his faraway girlfriend to call and has a beautiful voice in his song, "Answer Me."

Garrett Southerland, Talkin' Broadway: Gabay created the role of Tewfiq in the original film, and he played the role on Broadway after Tony Shalhoub (who originated the role there) left. Bookwriter Itamar Moses limits our understanding of Tewfiq until near the end of the show, and by then the audience has barely a chance to empathize with him. This is the case with many of the characters in fact-all but cafe-owner Dina (portrayed sternly by Janet Dacal), who clearly is the focus of development. The musical runs about 80 minutes without an intermission, and it feels as though there was room to develop the other characters more. Ms. Dacal's performance is credible though lacking some passionate resonance. All of that said, The Band's Visit pushes back against common American stereotypes of Middle Easterners with authentic and positive representation.

Civic Center Of Greater Des Moines - Des Moines, IA

DC Felton, BroadwayWorld:

The cast of "The Band's Visit" is mesmerizing. They drew the audience in from the top of the show, no matter what size of a role their character had in the show. Leading the show in the role of Sasson Gabay as Tewfiq, the role he originated in the movie "The Band's Visit" and then later joined the Broadway cast as a replacement for Tewfiq. I appreciated the nuances he brought to the character, which influenced how he interacted with each cast member. As he revealed more about his character to the audience, what drove his relationships with each actor onstage became very clear.

Tennessee Performing Arts Center - Nashville, TN

Jeffrey Ellis, BroadwayWorld: The musicians and their conductor, Tewfiq (Sasson Gabay warmly recreates onstage the role he first played in the film version that inspired the musical) arrive in the village of Bet Hatikva as the result of miscommunication when Haled's (the band's trumpet player brought to vivid life by Joe Joseph) Egyptian accent doesn't sound quite like "Petah Tikva," their destination. With no other bus available until the following morning, the musicians find refuge with townspeople eager for something different to happen in their lives. The resulting confluence of cultures and personalities might, at first blush, seem rather predictable and somewhat mundane, but as the disparate figures get to know one another, something far more consequential transpires and the Egyptians find common ground and friendship with their Israeli hosts, buffeted by a shared sense of loneliness and melancholy that somehow proves hopeful and redemptive.

Amy Stumpfl, Nashville Scene: Still, there are some really gorgeous performances here, and it's exciting to see Sasson Gabay reprising the role of Tewfiq (the part he originated in the original film and later took on as a replacement on Broadway). Janet Dacal also puts her own stamp on the pivotal role of Dina, drawing us in with numbers like "Omar Sharif" and "Something Different." But some of the evening's most memorable bits come from the supporting cast - including Joe Joseph, who delivers a dreamy rendition of "Haled's Song About Love," and Clay Singer, who infuses "Itzik's Lullaby" with aching honesty. "The Beat of Your Heart" provides yet another highlight, featuring the wonderful David Studwell as Avrum, an Israeli widower who bonds with his Egyptian guest over memories of music and youthful romance.

Shea's Performing Arts Center - Buffalo, NY

Michael Rabice, BroadwayWorld: Janet Dacal is mesmerizing as Dina. Physically beautiful, with a deadpan dry delivery, Dacal inhabits this fascinating character with elegance. Given Dina's background as a dance, Dacal's every movement is choreographed with subtlety. She houses the orchestra leader Tewfiq and trumpeter Haled for the night and becomes captivated by Tewfiq, played brilliantly by Sasson Gabay. Mr. Gabay has the distinction of playing the same role in the movie version, upon which the musical is based. He is a self confident man who hides his emotions and leads with authority.

Melinda Miller, Buffalo News: "The Band's Visit" doesn't have that "big" moment. This story exists in a place where it's the small moments that count. On this night in a small town in Israel, humanity breaks out between Arabs and Jews. And, in the morning, the bus to Petah Tikva arrives.

Peter Hall, Buffalo Rising: The stage is very clever, using those rotating concentric circles that we've seen before in HAMILTON. For me it isn't a musical without a counterpoint duet and here we get the Israeli Itzik singing a lullaby with the Egyptian Camal singing in Arabic. Very cool. And I only feel I've gotten my money's worth at a musical when I get choked up. It always happens during Act II of CAROUSEL, it happens during "Paul's Story" in A CHORUS LINE, and now here, in a brief moment late at night in Dina's apartment, it happens again.

Ann Marie Cusella, Welcome 716: The Middle Eastern music is one of the stars of the show. It is spectacular. From the rousing Overture at the start and Concert at the end, we are treated to such beautiful music that our spirits take wing and we are transported to a place that is sweet and spicy, filled with love and longing. Chet Baker shows up, too, as does George Gershwin. Hmmm.

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