A stylistic outlier not only upon its arrival on Broadway in late 2017 but for several decades prior, The Band's Visit incorporates traditional Egyptian, Arab, and Jewish music into a score that also pays respect to a certain amount of contemporary show-tune convention. Its music and lyrics were written by David Yazbek, already known as composer/lyricist for Broadway hits including The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. With a book by Itamar Moses based on a 2007 Egyptian film, The Band's Visit is about an Egyptian band (the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra) that gets stranded for a day in a one-café Israeli town on their way to a gig in the more cosmopolitan Petah Tikva. Improvisational instrumental performances are among the show's musical numbers, including its overture, which transports listeners to the Middle East and introduces the virtuosic playing style of the band. Its instrumentation includes oud, guitar, cello, woodwinds, and regional percussion instruments. (Yazbek himself is of Jewish-Italian and Arab-Lebanese descent). The original Broadway cast includes the Tony winner for Best Actress in a Musical, Katrina Lenk, as town resident Dina, Best Featured Actor winner Ari'el Stachel as Haled, and Tony Shalhoub as Tewfiq. The album's song highlights include "Waiting," a wistful cast number by the Israeli characters essentially about waiting for something to happen, and the lyrical "Omar Sharif," which has Lenk recalling her childhood exposures to Arab pop culture with nostalgic affection. Later, Etai Benson's Papi delivers "Papi Hears the Ocean," in one of the show's lighter comedic moments. In the absence of a genuine show-stopper, the closing ballad "Answer Me" by Adam Kantor's Telephone Guy and the cast will be a moment that lingers for many. The Band's Visit was nominated for 11 Tony Awards in all, and won ten, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson
feat: Etai Benson
feat: Tony Shalhoub
feat: Adam Kantor