The Band’s Visit is definitely underrated. It’s fairly new – the Broadway Cast Recording was released in 2017 – but it’s not very well known, even though it won the 2018 Tony Award for best musical.
Set in Israel in 1996, The Band’s Visit is
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.thebandsvisitmusical.com
Because the majority of the story takes place in the small town of Bet Hatikva, the set wasn’t elaborate, nor did it need to be. The main set pieces rotated around a single turntable. However, what this play lacked in set decorations, it more than made up for with its story and characters.
In a word, the characters were captivating. Not to mention hilarious. Probably the most interesting person, though, was Dina played by Bligh Voth. She’s the owner of a small café in the town. When the band first arrived, she didn’t really want to have anything to do with them, nor they with her. As the play, progresses, however, she opens up to the band’s leader, Tewfiq (played by Sasson Gabay), about her life. The common denominator was “Telephone Guy”. That’s actually the character’s name. He was in almost every scene, standing at a payphone, waiting for his girlfriend to call. What was really cool, though, was that the characters occasionally spoke Hebrew. Obviously, there’s no subtitles, but the audience is able to get the gist of it.
The music was another interesting aspect of this play. The members of the band were off to the side in every scene, actually playing their instruments. It would be interesting to find out how much of their music was supplemented by the orchestra.
Another thing that was different about this play was it didn’t have an intermission. It’s about 100 minutes long, and it went by really fast. Time flies when you’re having fun, right?