The Band's Visit musical The Band's Visit musical When Egyptian musicians get stuck in a tiny Israeli town, the lives of the artists intertwine with the lives of the locals. (Photo: The Band's Visit Musical)

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.

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.

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."

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:

The lead actor has three – three! – Primetime Emmys.

Tony Shalhoub in "The Band's Visit." "The Band's Visit' stars Tony Shalhoub and makes its way to Broadway this month. (Photo: Ahron R. Foster)

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.

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.


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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.'