Review Roundup: THE BAND'S VISIT on Tour; What Did The Critics Think?

Review Roundup: THE BAND'S VISIT on Tour; What Did The Critics Think?

The first national tour of The Band's Visit is now making its way across the country after launching at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island!

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.

Award-winning Israeli film actor Sasson Gabay reprises the role of Tewfiq in the upcoming North American tour of THE BAND'S VISIT. He created this role in the 2007 film of The Band's Visit and most recently played it on Broadway. Joining him for the tour is Janet Dacal in the role of Dina (known best for In The Heights).

The cast also includes Jennifer Apple as Anna, Mike Cefalo as Telephone Guy, Adam Gabay as Papi, Marc Ginsburg as Sammy, Kendal Hartse as Iris, Joe Joseph as Haled, Sara Kapner as Julia, Pomme Koch as Itzik, Ronnie Malley as Camal, James Rana as Simon, Or Schraiber as Zelger, and David Studwell as Avrum, along with Danny Burgos, Loren Lester, Nick Sacks, Hannah Shankman and Bligh Voth.

THE BAND'S VISIT features music and lyrics by Tony and Drama Desk Award winner David Yazbek, and a book by Tony Award, NY Drama Critics Circle, Lortel and Outer Critics Circle awards winner Itamar Moses. It is based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin, and is directed by Tony, Drama Desk, Lortel & Obie Award winner David Cromer.

The creative team also includes Patrick McCollum (Choreography), Scott Pask (Set Design), Sarah Laux (Costume Design), Tony Award winner Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Tony Award winner Kai Harada (Sound Design), Maya Ciarrocchi (Projection Design), Charles G. LaPointe (Hair Designer), Tony Award winner Jamshied Sharifi (Orchestrations), Andrea Grody (Music Supervisor, Music Director & Additional Arrangements) and Dean Sharenow (Music Supervisor & Music Coordinator).

Let's see what the critics have to say! Check back for more reviews as they come in!

Schenectady Reviews

Steve Barnes, Times Union: A remarkable microcosm that offers a gentle but probing portrait into the one night a group of Egyptian musicians spend in a small Israeli desert village, "The Band's Visit" explores human connections; some are missed, others thwarted or failed, but many become realized, albeit briefly. Regardless, the overall effect is supremely satisfying, a work of art that eschews most conventions of Broadway musicals yet should, if you accept its warming embrace, awaken you more fully than many rousing spectacles to the illuminating nuances of everyday life.

Paul Lamar, Daily Gazette: "Something strange" cuts two ways, actually, because to this Jewish community comes a band of Egyptian musicians who are supposed to be giving a concert somewhere else. A mispronunciation of the name of that other town - Petah Tikva--has landed them here; instead of being welcomed by a representative from the Egyptian consulate, they are attended to by an assortment of Israeli citizens who are both hospitable and curious.

Marc Savitt, BroadwayWorld: Dina shares with Tewfiq how as a child she would listen to music on Egyptian radio stations, from the likes of Umm Kulthum, and movies starring Omar Sharif. Tewfiq quotes one of the movies and they bond over the shared memories in - "Omar Sharif". At the roller-skating rink, Haled observes Papi's awkward interaction with his date. After Papi defuses an altercation between Haled and a guard at the rink, Papi explains his romantic anxieties to Haled in a charming musical number - "Papi Hears the Ocean". Haled, in-turn provides guidance and wisdom in "Haled's Song About Love". Meanwhile, at his apartment, Itzik sings his son to sleep - "Itzik's Lullaby", where in frustration with his lack of ambition in life, his wife, Iris (Kendal Hartse) leaves. Simon is initially concerned, but Itzik tells him that this happens often, and she always returns. Soon, she does, and their son begins to cry. Simon soothes the infant by playing his clarinet.

Toronto Reviews

Isabella Perrone, BroadwayWorld: Despite the growth of the characters, THE BAND'S VISIT doesn't rely on declarations of love or promises to change. Dina repeats the line she opened the show with: "Once not long ago, a group of musicians came to Israel from Egypt. You probably didn't hear about it. It wasn't very important." It's a perfectly quiet, unassuming ending to a story that promises nothing more than a brief look into its characters - and delivers on that promise in the most satisfying way possible.

Carla Maga, Toronto Star: As alluring as the cast is, the true stars of "The Band's Visit" are Yazbek's compositions and the astounding musicians: Tony Bird, George Crotty, Evan Francis, Roger Kashou and Ronnie Malley. The story is sweet, but the musical interludes are jaw-dropping. In fact, their final performance makes you wish they took up more of the evening's 90 minutes. As it stands, "The Band's Visit" has some drawbacks. Kennedy, while undeniably charming, is tasked by director David Cromer with slinking awkwardly slowly around the stage to signal her sexual allure and seductive prowess. It would be interesting to see this as Dina claiming her space, but it simply marks her as a minx, instinctually turning on the charm when faced with eight handsome men in uniform.

J. Kelly Nestruck, Globe and Mail: Director David Cromer's staging unwinds with unhurried precision. Scenic designer Scott Pask's vision of Bet Hatikva is a concrete-box purgatory in washed-out hues of green and brown, with a revolving stage that makes literal its monotonous circle of life. But Tyler Micoleau's lighting slowly transforms it, moving from the glare of a sun-baked desert day to the softness of an enchanting desert night.

Ilana Lucas, Mooney on Theatre: Like a dream deferred, the songs are delicate and lyrical, while simultaneously being assured and passionate. They are sighed into the air with a propulsive, tantalizing beat, slipping in and out of our consciousness. They satisfy without the usual pomp of big production numbers; they just are. There are surprisingly few tensions between Arab musicians and Jewish townspeople, save an uncomfortable interaction with a bouncer, but the knowledge of their differences is always there. That's enough. Much like Come From Away's relationship to 9/11, the musical is not based on the conflict, but the people.

Providence Reviews

Andria Tieman, BroadwayWorld: In addition to solid performances across the board, the scenic design by Scott Pask is among the best this reviewer has ever scene. The stage has two rotating circles upon which sets are placed and actors move. What this does is allow sets to move in and out in such a way that it makes you feel like you're just walking through the village, and it also allows some action to move to the front, while leaving other actors/sets in the background but still visible. It seems like a simple thing, but it works so well and seamlessly that it creates a wonderful flow of movement that's almost dancelike to the production.

Channing Gray, Providence Journal: Perhaps the nicest thing about the show is it doesn't try too hard, doesn't try too hard to plumb the meaning of life or use this strange overnight encounter as a metaphor for Arab-Israeli tensions. If anything, its simple message is that people everywhere face the same joys and sorrows.

Nancy Hall, Fun107: The story is simple, a band from Egypt heads to Israel for a performance and ends up in the wrong city. They must stay the night in the small town they've accidentally arrived in and the interactions that ensue from there take you through the show.You learn of love and loss, hear songs that fill the theater and experience moments so silent it's hard to believe the audience can be that quiet too. And the entire cast is brilliant. Funny, sassy, sad, awkward and all spectacular singers.

Photo: Chilina Kennedy & Sasson Gabay by Matthew Murphy.

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