The Band's Visit: When Music Crosses Borders

By: Gerard Raymond

In The Band’s Visit, a group of musicians travels from Egypt to Israel to give a concert, but arrives at the wrong destination. “You probably didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t very important,” reads a projected title at the start of the new musical now at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on Broadway. The self-deprecating disclaimer will fool no one.

Composer lyricist David Yazbek and book-writer Itamar Moses were well aware of that when they lifted the introduction from the lauded 2007 Israeli movie on which their musical is based. “We wanted to use that phrase from the movie because it sets the right tone: This is going to be a story about how the things that are ostensibly unimportant are perhaps hugely important,” says Moses.

The affecting fable about the members of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Band from Egypt who get mistakenly stranded in a small Israeli town in the middle of the Negev desert arrives on Broadway following an acclaimed run Off-Broadway. In the musical, over the course of a single night, the visitors and the locals make unexpected connections that transcend divisive politics or culture; the bond between them is their common humanity. And music.

Read the full article at Broadway Direct.

‘The Band’s Visit’ Star Katrina Lenk Is a New Kind of Broadway Leading Lady

Performers can spend the breadth of their careers waiting, hoping, to originate a role on Broadway. When “The Band’s Visit” opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre this fall, its star, Katrina Lenk, will have done it twice—in a matter of seven months.

“I am constantly going, ‘Wait, what’s happening right now?,’ ” Lenk says on an uncharacteristically chilly August day in New York City, trying to make sense of the position she finds herself in. “I haven’t wrapped my head around it. Yes, it’s fantastic. And now we do the work.”

It’s a grounded appraisal from someone who can attest to the rarity of this once-in-a-career perfect storm. Lenk is not an ingénue or overnight success. Between stints in Los Angeles and Chicago and her tenure in New York, she’s worked diligently for years in television and film, and understudied and replaced others in theater. 

But it wasn’t until last season’s starring role in Paula Vogel’s Tony-nominated “Indecent” (which she’d previously played Off-Broadway) that she became a lightning rod for New York City’s attention. Now, in David Yazbek and Itamar Moses’ “The Band’s Visit,” which she’ll be revisiting in its Main Stem incarnation after starring Off-Broadway, Lenk will lead a musical on Broadway for the first time and step into a role that’s poised to change her life. 

Read the full interview with Katrina at Backstage!

Katrina Lenk Can Quietly Break Your Heart

Quiet may well be the new loud in the world of show tunes. Unexpectedly, one of last season’s most acclaimed new musicals, “The Band’s Visit,” did not feature flashy choreography or cathartic 11 o’clock belters. Based on the 2007 art house film of the same title, the show, which played Off Broadway at the Atlantic Theater, is a low-key charmer in which looking at someone in silence carries as much emotional weight as delivering one of David Yazbek’s insidiously catchy songs.

Mastering both was Katrina Lenk, as the sultry owner of the lone cafe in a dead-end Israeli town, who has a brief encounter with a group of marooned Egyptian musicians, led by Tony Shalhoub. Fortunately, Ms. Lenk is now getting ready to reprise her performance at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, where the show starts Broadway previews on Oct. 7.

Over lunch at the Israeli restaurant Balaboosta in Manhattan a couple of weeks after the closing of Broadway’s “Indecent,” in which she played the passionate prostitute Menke, Ms. Lenk was almost as wry as her “Band’s Visit” character, Dina. Describing how she got cast, she simply said, with a shrug, “I went in, got a callback, then got the part.”

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The actress combines classic beauty — her face is dominated by striking wide-set eyes and cheekbones worthy of a 1930s film star — with easygoing friendliness, and her calm default setting seems contagious. When she did a stint as Arachne in “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” about five years ago, the famously accident-prone production stayed out of the news. “There was no drama when I was there,” she said, laughing. “It was the 11 months when nothing went wrong.”

Mr. Yazbek (“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”) helped fill in the blanks on the casting process, recalling Ms. Lenk’s early performance of one of Dina’s songs. “At some point, she sang ‘Omar Sharif,’ maybe at a callback, and I thought she was Israeli,” he said on the phone. “It was the whole package: the accent, the style, everything.” He recently wrote on Twitter that Ms. Lenk’s take was “one of my two favorite versions of anyone singing any of my shows songs. (The other is Lupone).”

Continue reading full story at NYT

Tony Shalhoub, Katrina Lenk, and More to Return to The Band's Visit for Broadway Bow

Myriad names from the Off-Broadway world premiere of The Band’s Visit will reprise their performances when the critically acclaimed musical transfer to Broadway this fall. Leading the cast will be three-time Tony nominee Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk, currently on Broadway in Indecent.

Shalhoub (The Price) will play Tewfiq—the leader of an Egyptian police band stranded in a small desert town in Israel, while Lenk (Once) takes on the role of Dina, one of the locals who take in the traveling musicians as the two groups form an unexpected bond.

Also returning to the show are George Abud (The Visit) as Camal, Bill Army (Act One) as Zelger, Tony nominee John Cariani (Something Rotten!) as Itzik, Andrew Polk (Burning) as Avrum, Rachel Prather (Once)as Julia, Jonathan Raviv (Martyrs Street) as Sammy, Sharone Sayegh (Mamma Mia!) as Anna, Kristen Sieh (The Fortress of Solitude)as Iris, Ari’el Stachel (We Live in Cairo) as Haled, and Alok Tewari (Awake and Sing!) as Simon.

The company will also include music director and pianist Andrea Grody, as well as band members Alexandra Eckhardt, Philip Mayer, Sam Sadigursky, Jeff Theiss, Harvey Valdes, and Garo Yellin. Compelte casting will be announced at a later date.

Performances will begin October 7 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, where the musical is set to officially open November 9. To purchase tickets, click here.

Read the full article at Playbill.

Strike Up the Band! Final Casting Announced for THE BAND'S VISIT on Broadway

Final casting has been announced for the Broadway production of the critically acclaimed musical THE BAND'S VISIT, arriving on Broadway in Fall 2017 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre (243 West 47th Street).

Joining the previously announced Katrina LenkTony ShalhoubJohn Cariani, Ari'el Stachel, George AbudAndrew PolkBill ArmyRachel PratherJonathan RavivSharone SayeghKristen Sieh and Alok Tewari are Etai Benson (An American in Paris) as "Papi" and Adam Kantor (Fiddler on the Roof) as "Telephone Guy."

Musicians will include Andrea Grody (Music Director/Piano), George Abud (Violin, Oud, Darbuka), Alexandra Eckhardt (Bass), Philip Mayer (Drums, Arabic Percussion), Sam Sadigursky (Clarinet, Saxophones, Flute), Jeff Theiss (Associate Conductor/Keyboard), Harvey Valdes (Guitar) and David Garo Yellin (Cello).

Pomme Koch and Madison Micucci will understudy for THE BAND'S VISIT.

Read the full article at Broadway World