The Band’s Visit Invites Connection

The cast of The Band’s Visit, including Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub, whisk audiences away to a remote desert town in Israel. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

“Maybe music is the food of love, but music and love, who can tell them apart?”

Therein lies the essence of The Band’s Visit, the subtle, yet poignant show that shines a spotlight on the transcendent power of music to overcome differences and connect people. Having started off-Broadway, the show moved to the Great White Way on Nov. 9, weaving a rich and mesmerizing story set against a stirring score.

The play centers around an Egyptian Police Band, which, after a mix-up at the border, finds itself in a remote village in the middle of the Israeli desert. With no choice but to spend the night, the musicians find themselves immersed in the lives of the locals. Music quickly opens the door for the musicians to form bonds with the people in the sleepy town of Bet Hatikvah. It makes a widower come alive with memories of his late wife, encourages a hapless romantic to make his move and sparks a connection between the strong-willed café owner and the reserved band leader.

The show has already received critical acclaim, including several “Best Musical” honors, a worthy title given the lively and transformative nature of the score. In addition to a clarinet, violin and cello, Arabic percussion instruments and an oud on stage bring David Yazbek’s Middle Eastern inspired music and lyrics to life.

Katrina Lenk plays Dina, a disillusioned café owner whose sensuality is awakened by Egyptian music. She shares memories with Tewfiq, played by Tony Shahloub, and helps bring him out of his shell. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

In addition to a memorable score, the show’s cast lays a firm foundation of talent that makes the play unforgettable, with Tony Shalhoub (Tewfiq) and Katrina Lenk (Dina) taking starring roles. Lenk is captivating as the headstrong, yet lonely café owner who finds herself surprised and unsettled at the bond she forms with the new man in town. Shalhoub, best known for his role as an obsessive-compulsive detective on USA’s Monk, is also a notable presence on stage, perfectly embodying the withdrawn band leader who carries a world of pain on his shoulders. The supporting cast rounds out the story, with each member showcasing incredible vocal talents and a relatable and immersive storyline of their own.

In a mere 95 minutes, The Band’s Visit transports audiences from The Ethel Barrymore Theatre to the Israeli desert, telling a succinct and beautifully crafted story filled with meaning and relatability. This is one show that audiences won’t want to miss. 0

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