Broadway Review: The Band’s Visit

While down in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, Denisa and I made our yearly trek into New York City to go see a show on Broadway. My dream this year was that we’d be able to go catch Groundhog Day before it closed. Alas, it was not meant to be. It ended its run back in September. (But fear not, Woodchuck Chuckers! It’s supposed to go on a national tour next year. Hope is not lost yet!) So I was left to scratch my head as I scanned through the offerings. Should I see something new? A revival? Hamilton? (Spoiler: no. Tickets at Thanksgiving were still through the roof.)

I turned to my intrepid agent, as I usually do on all things Broadway-related. And he had a strong recommendation right away: The Band’s Visit. I’d never even heard of it, but that’s not surprising, as I don’t follow the ins and outs of Broadway too closely. I turned to the Googlewebs to find out what it was all about. A Broadway adaptation of an Israeli movie from 2007, it tells the story of an Egyptian military band that ends up in a tiny town in Israel by accident for one evening. Its one big name star is Tony Shaloub (of Monk and Galaxy Quest fame). Kind of an inauspicious introduction to the musical.

But then I checked out the reviews, which were through the roof excellent. The show had started off-Broadway and had made the move to Broadway, opening November 12th after previews. Critics were gushing, and I was more than intrigued. Ticket prices were higher than some of the other shows I could see, but I liked the idea of seeing something fresh and new, so I went for it.

After a delicious Thai dinner at Yum Yum Too (food was great, naming of the restaurant leaves some to be desired), we saw the show, which is just an hour and a half long, with no intermission.

It was fantastic. So different from the other musicals I’ve seen. It’s got a variety of song-types, mainly Middle-Eastern themed. The musicians in the band on stage are actual musicians. Just amazing at their craft. The acting is spot on. I really don’t go to musicals to get engrossed in character development most of the time, but this musical . . . just incredible at that. I’m still thinking of the songs and characters, a week later. The story is simple, but because of that, it opens up so much room for exploring motivations and personalities. It was a beautiful experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat. So glad we went. It’s an easy 10/10.

Unfortunately it’s too new to even have a cast recording for me to point you to. That’s supposed to be coming soon. There are a few YouTube videos that give snippets of the songs. But for now, if you’re in New York in the next while and are looking for something awesome to see, you should put this right at the top of your list.

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