The Band’s Visit finds members of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, ready to perform at the inaugural ceremony of an Arab cultural center, stranded overnight in the wrong Israeli town. The Egyptian musicians are taken in by local Bet Hatikvans: Dina (a mesmerizing Katrina Lenk), a cafe owner; and Itzik (John Cariani giving a very touching performance), the unhappily married new dad living with his baby, wife, and father-in-law. While nationalistic tensions are certainly not ignored, they are not explicitly explored either. Instead, the creatives focus on the generosity of the human spirit, instinctual, mutual curiosity of the other, and the universal need to find connection and love in one’s life - the last theme emphasized in the beautiful and powerful full-company ballad “Answer Me”. Not suprisingly, Cromer directs one of best acted musicals I have ever seen. Every moment is full of truth. and when appropriate, he trusts silence to speak louder than words. Additionally, Yazbek writes an evocative score reminiscent of his best pieces in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. While the show is wrapping up its limited (though twice extended) run at the Atlantic next week - fingers are crossed a larger audience will have an opportunity to see this piece during a future commercial run.
Following a joyous encore featuring the band (doing double duty) of The Band’s Visit, I hopped in an Uber heading to Grand Central to catch the Metro North home. Wouldn’t you know, my driver was a first-generation Egyptian American. During the 15 minute ride, we discussed everything from the musical I had just seen to Egyptian popular culture and music, the current political state of Egypt, the immigrant experience in America, and the most recent election. Perhaps, if I had not seen this musical, I would have sat quietly in the back seat of the car Tweeting and responding to email on my iPhone until I arrived at my destination. But after the evening’s performance, I couldn’t help but want to get to know the man behind the wheel. It is unlikely that The Band's Visit will change the world - but it certainly left a lasting impression on mine - Uber and onward.
- "Tahrir is Now" from We Live in Cairo by Patrick and Daniel Lazour as performed at Encores! Off-Center Jamboree
- The National Tour of An American in Paris*