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.