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Reflective and Thoughtful, Joe Joseph On His Journey as Haled in THE BAND'S VISIT as it Continues in Nashville 10/19-24

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Acclaimed Musical Brings Broadway Back to Music City

The Band's Visit
Joe Joseph as Haled in the national touring company of The Band's Visit.
- photos by Matthew Murphy

Coming home to the theater - even when it means returning to a role he first played more than two years ago - is a surreal experience for Joe Joseph, the thoughtful, reflective and multi-talented University of Michigan graduate now playing Haled in the national touring company of The Band's Visit, the 2019 Tony Award-winning best musical.

Heading to Nashville next week (The Band's Visit plays Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Andrew Jackson Hall October 19-24) for the latest stop in the national tour of the acclaimed musical, Joseph recently took time from a hectic week filled with tech rehearsals in Richmond, Virginia (where the production was mounted once again to continue the tour that was truncated by the realities of a pandemic-related shutdown that closed theaters the world over for more than a year-and-a-half) to contemplate what this new theatrical journey means to him and his company compatriots and for their audiences awaiting their arrival across America.

"I joined the Broadway company as an understudy near the end of its Broadway run, so it's wonderful to be back at work, continuing the long journey of this unique musical," he says.

The Band's Visit
Joe Joseph

"Returning to the show is very surreal," Joseph admits. "As a returning cast member, much of what happens in the show falls into place, although now there are new production elements added, along with new cast members, new crew and changes that make the show even better than before."

With music and lyrics by Tony and Drama Desk Award winner David Yazbek, and a book by Tony, New York Drama Critics Circle, Lortel and Outer Critics Circle award winner Itamar Moses, The Band's Visit won "best musical" honors from the Tony Awards, the Drama League, New York Drama Critics' Circle, the Outer Critics Circle, the Lucille Lortel Awards and the Obies. Based upon the screenplay of the critically lauded 2007 Israeli film by Eran Kolirin, The Band's Visit is directed by Tony, Drama Desk, Lortel and Obie Award winner David Cromer.

The Band's Visit is the first Broadway touring production to return to TPAC since it closed its theaters in March 2020.

"I think the world and the country has experienced so much pain and loss over the past year and a half," Joseph says. "And I think that the opportunity to be a very small part of something that might provide some sort of respite from that is the greatest responsibility we, as performers, may have in this life."

"When The Band's Visit makes its Nashville premiere next week, it will have been more than 19 months since audiences have shared in the incomparable experience of a live Broadway performance at TPAC," according to Jennifer Turner, TPAC president and CEO. "We can't think of a show more perfectly suited to bring us back together then this beautiful award-winning musical. Its message of acceptance and kindness is a powerful reminder of how music and the arts bridge and connect us all."

Going back on tour with The Band's Visit for the first time since early 2020 is challenging to be certain, Joseph maintains, but the addition of new personalities and updated changes to the staging will help to "keep it fresh" once the rigors of touring the country become routine as the company moves from one city to another, one theater to another in the coming months.

"The first time I saw The Band's Visit, I was truly moved by its story and its music," Joseph recalls. "And now that I get to be a part of that every night, it's very satisfying."

Bringing the production to life every night allows company members to give audiences a performance that they might not expect, since The Band's Visit is rather different from other Broadway musicals of this or any other season.

"The Band's Visit brings a sense of naturalism to the theater," he muses. "There is nothing inherently unconventional about the story or the music, but the nature of these people we portray and the setting of the play is unique. It brings naturalism to musical theater - refusing to 'cheat out,' refusing to make a spectacle of human moments."

The Band's Visit
Sara Kapner and Joe Joseph in The Band's Visit.

In The Band's Visit, Joseph contends, "the distinction is I don't play a character - I am the character. In other shows, you always sing to the back of the house, your emotions are bigger so that every person in the theater can see what you're doing. But this show relies on a lack of ornamentation - simple gestures can have so much power, both musically and dramatically -- so you must allow yourself to be comfortable with the stillness."

Much of the power of The Band's Visit "relies on the lack of ornamentation" often expected of most musical theater. Instead, its strength comes from "simple acts done simply" which can be, at once, both challenging and ultimately refreshing for the actor.

For Joseph, the experience exemplifies his predilection for performances and actors "who can split the difference between unadorned human action and the more elevated moments represented in musical theater."

With his current role, Joseph has found himself reveling in "the complexity of the score, which requires a whole different kind of mindset from other shows I've done."

"Audiences want to see themselves onstage," he suggests. "To equate what they're seeing onstage with experiences in their own life. As an actor, you don't have to send your song to the back of the audience, you can actually let yourself off the hook and be more humane and restrained for the audience to identify with you in a way that is calmer and stiller - and more powerful."

"What makes this show special," he continues, "is its frank deliberation on love, loss and joy, and I believe people will respond to that and see themselves - and find themselves - in the story we tell."

The Band's VisitAbout The Band's Visit

Celebrating the highly anticipated return of touring Broadway to Nashville, the nonprofit Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) launches its 2021-22 HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health Broadway at TPAC season with the Nashville premiere of The Band's Visit, one of the most Tony Award®-winning musicals in history, at TPAC's Jackson Hall Oct. 19-24.

With a Tony Award- and Grammy Award-winning score that "seduces your soul and sweeps you off your feet," and featuring talented onstage musicians, "The Band's Visit rejoices in the way music makes us laugh, makes us cry and ultimately, brings us together."

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. The Band's Visit tells a delightfully offbeat story, set in a town that's way off the beaten path, a band of musicians arrive lost, out of the blue. Under the spell of the desert sky, and with beautiful music perfuming the air, the band brings the town to life in unexpected and tantalizing ways. Even the briefest visit can stay with you forever.

The Band's Visit opened to critical acclaim at the Atlantic Theater Company on December 8, 2016, where the sold-out, limited engagement extended twice, playing its final performance on Sunday, January 8, 2017. The show then opened at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre on November 9, 2017, and went on to play 589 regular performances and 36 previews before closing on April 7, 2019. The Band's Visit broke the all-time box office record at Broadway's Barrymore Theatre twice.

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 design), Tony Award winner Jamshied Sharifi (orchestrations), Andrea Grody (music supervisor and additional arrangements), Dean Sharenow (music supervisor and music coordinator) and Rick Bertone (music director).

The Band's Visit original Broadway cast album received the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The musical is also the recipient of a 2019 Daytime Emmy Award for a performance of "Answer Me" on NBC's Today.

For further details, go to www.thebandsvisitmusical.com or find the show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

The Band's VisitCovid-19 Health and Safety Guidelines at TPAC

We are eager to welcome you back for safe and memorable experiences at Tennessee Performing Arts Center. To help ensure the health and well-being of our audiences, artists, staff, and volunteers, TPAC has implemented the following Patron Entry Policy:

Patrons 12+ are required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test administered within 3 days (72 hours) of the performance date for all indoor performances and events presented by TPAC.

Patrons 6+ are required to wear a mask at indoor performances and events regardless of vaccination status.

TPAC highly recommends masks for children ages 2-5.

Performance ticket holders who do not comply with these policies will not be admitted.

Health and safety guidelines are changing. TPAC is working with its official health and safety partner, HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health, to help ensure audiences can safely return to the incomparable excitement of live performances. Here are a few things patrons can expect when they return:

Mask policies may vary by show and will be communicated to ticket buyers in advance.

Updated air filtration systems to improve ventilation

Enhanced cleaning protocols

Touchless hand sanitizer stations available

A touchless environment for restrooms, concessions, and box office when possible.

Although TPAC lobbies and continental seating in TPAC's Jackson Hall do not allow for social distancing during Broadway engagements, TPAC encourages physical distancing in restrooms, elevators, and other public areas when possible.

TPAC guidelines follow recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), local health officials, and HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health. For updates as vaccination rates increase and the situation improves, visit TPAC.ORG/PatronHealth.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy


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