REVIEW: Don’t Miss The Band’s Visit at the Peace Center

BY SANDY STAGGS

A slight mispronunciation at a bus terminal in Tel Aviv lands an Egyptian band in a remote and tiny Israeli village for one night that changes everyone’s lives forever.

With incredible Arab music and lyrics by David Yazbek and a book by Itamar Moses, The Band’s Visit is based on the 2007 Israeli film of the same name and swept the 2018 Tonys with 10 awards.

With light parallels to Come From Away last season (without the sentimentality, patriotism and extreme tragedy, though there is plenty) this indelible work is about two cultures (Egypt is of the few Arabic countries Israel has diplomatic ties) that unite for a day to assimilate, learn from one another and perhaps fall in love.

The story centers on cafe owner Dina (a feisty Chilina Kennedy) who bemoans her humdrum existence in Bet Hatikva in the hilarious “Waiting” and “Welcome to Nowhere.” and the staid gentleman Tewfiq, conductor of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, played on tour by unshakable Sasson Gabay and Tony winner Tony Shalhoub on Broadway.

They immediately connect innocently enough and spend most of the night (not in a carnal way), discussing their pasts and reminiscing on Omar Sharif movies.

The band is dispersed in several households including that of troubled young couple Itzik (Pomme Koch) and his wife, son and father-in-law Avrum (David Studwell. What a powerful break-up/makeup these two habe

There are several subplots that involve young romantics, and a poor Telephone Guy (Mike Cefalo) who await a pay for a call from his girlfriend which may never happen.

Director David Cromer has crafted an old-fashioned pacing with relaxed quality (perhaps too relaxed in couple of instances) and with winsome, ethereal lighting (Tyler Micoleau) that shifts gently as intimate minute moments occur.

The Band’s Visit continues through Sunday Sept. 1 at the Peace Center. Tickets are available at the box office or peaceecnter.org

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