Review: Stunning ‘The Band’s Visit’ captures the spirit and humanity of Israeli film in a musical | Local

“The Group Visit,” a quiet little image about a group of Egyptian policemen who find themselves stranded overnight in a small Israeli town, was one of my favorite films of 2007.

After seeing the National Touring Company’s production of the Tony Award winner at the Lied Center for Performing Arts on Saturday, it’s now one of my favorite musicals of the past five years.

Largely, that’s because the musical isn’t a big “Broadway” style production full of dancing, band singing, and the like. It’s more like a play with music that, lyrically, conveys the feelings and emotions of the characters like conventional dialogue would. replaces.

This then allows the musical to capture the spirit and humanity of the film while giving Israeli actor Sasson Gabay the opportunity to superbly reprise his award-winning role as Colonel Tewfiq Zaharia, the conductor of the Orchestra. ceremonial police officer from Alexandria, who, thanks to a mix-up at the Tel Aviv bus station ticket office, ends up in the tiny Bet Hatikva instead in the city where he is due to play a concert the next day.

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The rest of the story simply follows the band members as they interact with the locals, who take them home and into town, so to speak, before they get back on the bus the next morning.

Told in vignettes, the main interactions are between Tewfiq and Dina (a very good Janet Dacal), who share their life stories as they go out to dinner and then reunite at the local park; Haled (Joe Joseph), who teaches awkward Grandpa (Ali Bourzgui) how to “melt” his nervousness and approach a woman; and clarinetist Itzak (Clay Singer) who stays with an arguing couple.

Throughout the show, the band members show up, one, two, three, or all at once, playing their instruments to accompany scenes that continually reset on the turntable in the center of the stage.

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The music is Arabic/klezmer in nature, flavored with enough traditional Broadway to allow Joseph to connect with the jazzy lounge pop of “Haled’s Song About Love.” But the musical highlight is “Something Different,” a duet between Tewfiq and Dina that seems to set up a romance.

But that’s part of why “The Band’s Visit” works so well – that cliche doesn’t happen. Instead, it sets the stage for more reveals about each of the characters and conveys the message, taken from the film, of openness to others, that we all have things in common and need and deserve respect and compassion.

“The Band’s Visit” ends with “The Concert,” which takes place after the cast have bowed out. So don’t leave Sunday’s two Lied Center performances too soon.

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Contact the writer at 402-473-7244 or [email protected] On Twitter @KentWolgamott

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