The company of The Band’s Visit. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
The reviews are in for David Yazbek and Itamar Moses’ new musical, based on the film of the same name by Eran Kolirin and directed by David Cromer.
Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th Street
Music & Lyrics by David Yazbek
Book by Itamar Moses
Based on the Screenplay by Eran Kolirin
Choreography by Patrick McCollum
Directed by David Cromer
Cast: Katrina Lenk, Tony Shalhoub, John Cariani, Ari’el Stachel, George Abud, Andrew Polk, Bill Army, Rachel Prather, Jonathan Raviv, Sharone Sayegh, Kristen Sieh, Alok Tewari, Etai Benson, Adam Kantor
Ben Brantley – New York Times
Breaking news for Broadway theatergoers, even — or perhaps especially — those who thought they were past the age of infatuation: It is time to fall in love again.
Marilyn Stasio – Variety
The set’s a bit grander and the music sounds richer, but success hasn’t spoiled this embraceable musical fable about the surprising friendships that bloom in the middle of a political desert. In this Broadway transfer of an Off Broadway hit, human error sends an Egyptian military band to a depressed Israeli outpost in a desert wasteland — and human connections bring Arabs and Israelis together on common ground.
Dana Schwartz – Entertainment Weekly
Many of the strongest scenes come directly from Eran Kolirin’s 2007 film of the same name, including the memorable moment in which the band’s Chet Baker-loving ladies man is able to wordlessly instruct the awkward Papi on the art of seduction. But everything is elevated by David Yazbek’s (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) haunting music and deadpan lyrics that perfectly capture the Israeli humor that made the original movie such a favorite among critics and viewers.
Peter Marks – The Washington Post
“Beautiful” is a word we bandy about in the daily pursuit of adjectives to describe the things we love. But even in an entertainment world overrun with superlatives, this is the one you’re compelled to use to describe “The Band’s Visit,” which had its official opening Thursday night at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
Joe Dziemianowicz – NY Daily News
“The Band’s Visit” takes place in the desert and, like a mirage, it shimmers. But better. Because this hushed, heart-melting musical is real — and truly magical.
Jeremy Gerard – Deadline
Feed your soul: Go see The Band’s Visit. Now that this exquisite musical has moved uptown to Broadway – it opened tonight at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre – I can make that recommendation with only one caveat, which is to spring for center orchestra seats, but more about that later. The rare film-to-musical adaptation that enhances the source material, The Band’s Visit has stayed with me in the year since it opened off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company, like a dream from which I never wanted to awaken.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
Finally, a new musical that offers not one anthem. Better yet, there’s not one over-amplified caterwauling power ballad. Composer David Yazbek chooses instead to seduce with music and lyrics that slyly slip into our consciousness through an inspired repetition, with melodies unfolding to make the spirit both ache and soar.
Michael Portantiere – Talkin’ Broadway
It’s demonstrably true that people who think they’re supposed to hate each other due to cultural, racial, religious, ideological, and other differences amplified by tribalism can actually like, even love each other if they have the chance to get to know each other on a personal basis. Sixty years ago, a groundbreaking musical built around this universal theme opened on Broadway: West Side Story. There are several more shining examples of other great shows that have told similar tales. And now we have a new one.
Matt Windman – AM New York
The integration of David Cromer’s intimate and sensitive direction; David Yazbek’s Middle-Eastern flavored score, much of which is performed onstage by cast members; and Itamar Moses’ book, which hews closely to the original screenplay, is so seamless that it is virtually impossible to pick apart.
Michael Schulman – The New Yorker
Such minimalist material requires tremendous trust and patience, and Cromer, who burst onto the New York theatre scene in 2009, with his inspired staging of “Our Town,” has both, letting the story’s emotional music find its way to the surface.
Chris Jones – Chicago Tribune
New Yorkers will admire this piece and thank God for their own centrality. But if you’ve spent your life in a small town and regretted it, be scared of wandering into “The Band’s Visit.” It may confirm all your worst fears of yourself.
Jonathan Mandell – New York Theater
What happens when a lovely, low-key musical based on an offbeat Israeli film moves from Off-Broadway to a Broadway theater five times its size? You get the same widely acclaimed show – with David Yazbek’s exquisite Middle Eastern score and delicious lyrics, a spot-on cast (12 of 14 the same) led by the incomparable Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk, a story adapted by Itamar Moses that’s both doleful and droll – plus better acoustics, and better accents.