The nationwide tour of THE BAND’S VISIT, currently playing at the Eccles Theater, presents a slow, introspective slice of life that overwhelms audiences, at times gripping them as it illuminates glimpses of the story each person has to tell.
THE GROUP’S VISIT (music and lyrics by David Yazbek, book by Ithmar Moses), based on the 2007 film of the same name, won 10 Tony Awards in 2018, including Best Musical. When an Egyptian group finds itself stranded in a remote Israeli town due to a travel problem, they are welcomed by local residents and spend a memorable night in each other’s company.
The group members’ on-stage instrumental performances, both diegetic and theatrical, are impressive. Combined with the pit band (led by musical director Adrian Ries), the stunning live music with Middle Eastern flavors (featuring orchestrations by Jamshed Sharifi) is haunting and healing.
The ensemble cast, convincingly directed by David Cromer, is world-class with highly nuanced screen-worthy performance. These include Janet Dacal like Dina, who played memorable roles in the original Broadway casts of IN THE HEIGHTS (Carla) and WONDERLAND (Alice), and Sasson Gabay as Tewfiq, who originated the same role in the film.
Other highlights include Joe Joseph like Haled, clay singer like Itzik, Yoni Avi Battat like Camal, Coby Getzug like Grandpa, Joshua Grosso as a telephone guy, Kendal Hartse like Iris, and David Studwell like Avrum.
Unfortunately, the volume of the dialogue during the performance under review was not boosted enough and was therefore difficult to hear. Combined with thick accents and a story and setting that is unfamiliar to some, the sound glitch likely rendered parts of the show unintelligible to many audience members, necessitating the use of contextual clues to figure it out. that was happening.
However, the rest of the production is of very high quality. Modest costume design by Sarah Laux is transportable, as is the realistic stage design of Scott Pask. Simple but quite effective, the set features realistic details and elegant transitions orchestrated by a turntable. The show would be worth seeing even just for the evocative Tony-winning lighting by Tyler Micoleau. Moody and unafraid of darkness and shade, he is utterly lovely.
THE BAND’S VISIT plays at the Eccles Theater for a limited engagement through Sunday, March 20, 2022. For tickets, call ArtTix at 801-355-ARTS (2787) or visit www.artsaltlake.org.