Why everybody is talking about the new Broadway musical 'The Band's Visit'
The comedy about a band that gets stranded in a remote Israeli town is drawing comparisons to the Tony Award-winning phenom 'Hamilton.'
Every Broadway season brings with it that one show that everyone is clamoring to go see. Names like "The Producers," "The Book of Mormon" and "Hamilton" have been etched into theatrical history. Well, this year, a new musical called "The Band's Visit" is poised to be the next title to join that pantheon. Tickets are disappearing fast.
So what's it about? After a mix-up at the border, an Egyptian band is sent to a remote village in Israel. With no bus until morning and no hotel in sight, these unlikely travelers are taken in by the locals and their lives become intertwined in the most unexpected ways.
Want to be a Broadway expert at the water cooler? Here's what you need to know about "The Band's Visit"...
Hamilton himself is, like, totally geeking out about it.
Act 3: I lose all control, screaming in the streets, "See The Band's Visit SEEEE ITTTTT..." end of thread. pic.twitter.com/cep3Qu8i3F— 🇵🇷 Lin-Manuel Miranda 🏳️🌈 (@Lin_Manuel) October 28, 2017
Liz Manuel-Miranda, the brainchild behind the hit Broadway show "Hamilton," was so excited about "The Band's Visit," he just had to shout its praises to his 2 million Twitter followers. He called the score "stunning, gorgeous [and] beautiful," adding for emphasis, "See The Band's Visit SEEEE ITTTTT..."
It's getting ridiculously ravishing reviews.
The Band’s Visit, a quietly ravishing new musical, may be this year's best. https://t.co/rRIQ3l34ni— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) November 2, 2017
I have rewatched that Band's Visit promo video so many times. That show is a damn gem.— hayley 🍍🇮🇱🏳️🌈 || spongeband’s visitpants || (@hayleystjames) November 8, 2017
I can’t stop thinking about David Yazbek’s masterful score for The Band’s Visit.— Andrew Greenberg (@amgreenberg) October 28, 2017
Daily reminder the cast of The Band's Visit is Doing Amazing Things™ and everyone needs to see it.— hayley 🍍🇮🇱🏳️🌈 || spongeband’s visitpants || (@hayleystjames) October 27, 2017
Ben Brantley of the New York Times opened his review with: "Breaking news for Broadway theatergoers, even — or perhaps especially — those who thought they were past the age of infatuation: It is time to fall in love again. One of the most ravishing musicals you will ever be seduced by...," adding that it's “my favorite musical of the season by far." Vogue magazine's reviewer agrees, writing that "it may be this year's best." And the Hollywood Reporter's bottom line is that the musical is "heartfelt, poignant and utterly transporting." As Larry David would say: "That's pretty, pretty, pretty good."
“Breaking news for Broadway theatergoers: It is time to fall in love again! One of the most ravishing musicals you will ever be seduced by. It is called THE BAND'S VISIT." - @nytimes https://t.co/5NABJxBbVn pic.twitter.com/zlSzRz697l— The Band's Visit (@TheBandsVisit) November 10, 2017
Katrina Lenk is a national treasure.
Lead actress Katrina Lenk plays Dina, a local cafe owner who gets pretty involved with the band. Before her newest role, Lenk was an understudy in “The Miracle Worker" in 2010, but she never actually got on stage. She had some stage time in other performances, but this is by far her most widely reaching role.
“I’m not a fan of the quote-end-quote typical Broadway voice, and Katrina has a very distinctive voice,” said David Yazbek, who composed much of the show's music. “A lot of people can push the buttons, but not many people can quietly break your heart.”
And, by all accounts, she's the show's breakout star:
if the rapturous "The Band's Visit" doesn't make a star of Katrina Lenk, I will go live in Bet Hatikvah myself. https://t.co/gZHjaDfgLM— Peter Marks (@petermarksdrama) November 10, 2017
Katrina Lenk is another 15-years-in-the-making 'overnight star.' She returns to Broadway after a career-making... https://t.co/P47IK5NA6w— Observer Arts (@ObserverArts) November 7, 2017
Are you saying I now have 280 characters to tweet about Katrina Lenk?— Linda Buchwald (@PataphysicalSci) November 8, 2017
I know we just finished an election cycle, but I’d like to kick off Katrina Lenk’s Tony campaign tonight.— David Gordon (@MrDavidGordon) November 8, 2017
The lead actor has three – three! – Primetime Emmys.
On the other hand, you'll probably recognize the lead actor, even if you've never seen a musical. It's Tony Shalhoub, who played the OCD detective on the USA network comedy "Monk." In "The Band's Visit," he plays the leader of the Egyptian band who keeps making eyes at Dina.
“My very first impression was that she was someone I’d known my whole life,” he wrote about Lenk, “and at the same time, unlike anyone I’d ever met! An enigma. She seemed terribly shy and yet quietly confident. Deeply centered but just as vulnerable.”
It's feel-good and funny.
The Band's Visit was enchanting. Lovely performances & a reminder that people coming together despite differences is a beautiful thing pic.twitter.com/8EKDw5dTw0— Ty-le® (@_tyler_isms) October 28, 2017
The Band's Visit invented softness; my ❤️ feels like seeing the ocean for the first time, at first light + you're the only one on the shore.— Julia Chen (@passthejujubes) October 29, 2017
We were treated to "The Band's Visit" last night. Beautiful story, beautiful music, amazing all around.— Mia Siegert (@MiaSiegert) October 27, 2017
Fun fact: I didn't cry about the Band's Visit in the theater but I did cry about it this morning in the shower #answerme— Laura 💜🌈 (@petrarchian) October 27, 2017
It's based on a movie – a really, really good one.
"The Band's Visit" is based on a 2007 hit Israeli comedy. The film has a virtually unheard of 98% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes. A Boston Globe critic gushed: "It's a small, profoundly satisfying movie that keeps echoing long after it's over." At the time, Roger Ebert named it one of the 20 best films of the year.
It's already a shoo-in for next year's Tony Awards.
2018 Tony Awards sweep brought to you by The Band’s Visit— Phil Connors (@growswild) November 2, 2017
Hey Ummmmmm The Band's Visit is without a doubt going to sweep the Tonys this year— Based doG (@SickwithBooze) November 2, 2017
Engrave “KATRINA LENK” and lock up the Tony so nobody tries to steal it.— Lane Williamson (@lanewilliamson) November 7, 2017
Has 'The Band's Visit' Sewn Up the 2018 Tony Race Already? https://t.co/tKPXxmqIdq— Steven Lawson (@stevenrlawson) August 8, 2017
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: