'The Band's Visit' is a so-so show, but a wonderful concert that leaves you feeling good

What's worthwhile about this Tony Nominated musical?

The Band's Visit is nominated for 11 Tony Awards for everything from Best Musical to Best Lighting Design, as well as Best Actor for Tony Shalhoub and Best Actress for Katrina Lenk began its official run on Broadway on Nov. 9, 2017.

This show is about a stuffy Egyptian Police Band, who after a mix-up at the border are sent to a remote village in the heart of the Israeli desert instead of the Arab Cultural Center.

Here's the thing, when a show tells you that "It wasn't very important," I tend to believe them and they were right, it wasn't.  However, the music was incredible.

The songs weren't particularly memorable, however, the music that filled the stage the entire time was sublime.  The zippy Egyptian and Middle Eastern tunes were toe-tappingly fabulous.  In fact, this is the first Broadway show I have attended where the cast got regular applause, but the band received a well-deserved standing ovation.

The story goes as follows: the Egyptian Police Band ends up at a remote village, rather than the cultural center that they were expecting as the names of the two places Petah Tikvah and Bet Hatikva sound very similar, so a mistake is made and the adventure begins.

Their bus will not arrive until morning and they are surprised that there is not only no hotel in the area, but the friendly townspeople take them in and many lives are changed because of this unexpected detour.

Colonel Tewfiq Zakaria is incredibly uptight and is charmed by cafe owner Dina.  They build a slow-moving but important connection and share important details of their respective pasts with each other.

Other members of the town include two workers at the cafe, a stressed-out couple with a colicky baby and a man who waits obsessively in front of the only payphone in town for his long-distance girlfriend to call him.  The townies and the band members bond during this one night.

The chemistry between the actors isn't terrific, but they are likable.  The bandmates feel like a cohesive group and the citizens of Bet Hatikva seem realistically bored with their daily lives and warmly embrace the strangers.  Those relationships give the whole show a peaceful and goodwill vibe towards all people that is often missing in entertainment, so you leave the theater feeling a bit better about humanity.

This musical is based on a 2007 Israeli film directed by Eran Kolirin.

The songs "Waiting," "Beat Of Your Heart," "Omar Sharif" and "Something Different" help take the story along, but they aren't particularly memorable.  When a great Broadway song gets in your head, you can't dislodge that earworm at all.  That wasn't the case with most of the songs that included lyrics.

The big however is that the instrumental pieces made your spine tingle.  The finale of "Concert" was just that and it and "Answer Me" were worth the price of admission.

The original cast of The Band's Visit included Tony Shalhoub (of TVs popular Monk and Wings), Katrina Lenk (of TV's The Good Fight and Blacklist), Johnny Cariani (Tony nominee for Fiddler on the Roof) and Ari'el Satchel (Netflix hit Jessica Jones) and many more familiar faces of film, TV and theater opened in previews on Oct. 7. The music and lyrics are by David Yazbek, the book is by Itamar Moses, it is directed by David Cromer and it is choreographed by Patrick McCullom.

The Band's Visit is a great option for people who don't typically like musicals but love music.  The story and the lyrical songs play second fiddle to the score itself.

The show has already won Best Musical for NY Drama Critics' Circle Award, Best Musical for Outer Critics Circle Award (Off-Broadway), Best Musical for the Lucille Lortel Award and the Best Musical Obie Award.

The Band's Visit is playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre 243 W 47th Street and tickets may be purchased through Telecharge or here. Ticket Prices range from $49-upwards of $175. The show runs for 90 minutes--there is no intermission, nor late seating for this show.


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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.

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