Imagine longing for a phone call from a loved one or the act of just mustering up enough courage to speak to a girl. Imagine welcoming a group of strangers to your table and into your private home for the night because they are in need of a place to stay. Think about that kind of selflessness and hospitality freely given without a second thought. These seemingly small acts of kindness make a big impact in The Band’s Visit.
Directed warmly by Paul Daigneault with mesmerizing music direction by Jose Delgado, The Huntington with SpeakEasy Stage Company presents The Band’s Visit by Itamar Moses through December 17. The show is 90 minutes with no intermission. Click here for more information and for tickets.
The Band’s Visit made its Broadway debut in 2017 with Tony Shaloub as Tewfiq and went on to win multiple Tony Awards. Much of this acclaimed show hinges on its eclectic and spellbinding music soundtrack which ties the band and the locals together, particularly essential when they are feeling misunderstood. This multi-talented onstage band certainly can jam especially for the numbers Soraya and Haj-Butras and receives some additional hidden accompaniment which is delightedly revealed in an unexpected way.
Set in 1996 in a small Israeli town located in the middle of the Negrev Desert where nothing unusual ever seems to happen, the townsfolk are dazzled by a traveling and stranded Egyptian band wearing distinguished, powder blue uniforms by Miranda Kau Giurleu. The Band’s Visit is an unconventional and unassuming musical that quietly and most assuredly will open hearts and minds to the little things in life that are sometimes overlooked.
The Band’s Visit unveils heartache and hope in such a remote land that the locals may sometimes feel forgotten. Many aspects of Jimmy Stubbs and Wilson Chin’s nostalgic scenic design fondly rewinds the clock using iconic pieces of nostalgia while also evoking the isolated nature of the town which includes a towering lamp post, a phone booth richly and authentically detailed with fingerprints and grime on its plastic cover, and a deserted blue street with yellow stripes. One of the most memorable scenes recreates a retro roller skating rink equipped with multicolored lights, disco ball and DJ.
This production has many surprises and this intriguing cast is no exception. Brian Thomas Abraham wonderfully portrays modest orchestra leader Tewfiq. Abraham’s reserved Tewfiq expresses his art with charisma, but offstage, he is a man of few words. Guarded and mysterious, Abraham shares fascinating chemistry with Jennifer Apple, a natural as feisty divorcee Dina especially for the beguiling numbers Omar Sharif and Something Different. Stunning in a gorgeous red flowing burgundy frock, Apple captures Dina’s resilience and yearning for happiness beyond what this small town can offer but something is holding her back. Apple’s bright smile and intense, determined nature is particularly notable in a scene stealing incident slicing watermelon in It is What it Is.
Mariana Bassham, who has a history of impactful roles including a starring role in SpeakEasy Stage’s People Places and Things from 2022, is impressive alongside Jared Troilo as Iris, Itzik’s long suffering and resentful wife. Even in an uplifting scene involving household instruments, Bassham’s vacant expressions and fatigue is the picture of indifference and discontented heartache as she stares into the abyss of a life unfulfilled. Troilo’s Itzik is warm and helplessly optimistic despite his family’s circumstances. Troilo has a powerful voice which is understated for this particular performance for a quietly tender Itzik’s Lullaby.
The Band’s Visit also offers a mix of lighthearted comedic moments. Jesse Garlick shines as awkward and bewildered Papi for the zany number Papi Hears the Ocean as Josephine Moshiri Elwood as self effacing Julia looks on. Kareem Elsamadicy is much more than meets the eye as Haled for the smooth and lovely rendition of Haled’s Song about Love. Emily Qualmann as Anna and Fady Demian as Zelgar make an entertaining pair of partiers and Noah Kieserman delivers gorgeous vocals with the cast for the enthralling number, Answer Me.
Directed warmly by Paul Daigneault with mesmerizing music direction by Jose Delgado, The Huntington with SpeakEasy Stage presents The Band’s Visit by Itamar Moses through December 17. The show is 90 minutes with no intermission. Click here for more information and for tickets.