This March, critically acclaimed musical The Band’s Visit will be making its international premiere in Manila through a staging by Atlantis Theatrical. Directed by Bobby Garcia, the production will be led by returning actors Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and Mark Bautista, while playwright and singer Rody Vera makes his Atlantis debut. Rounding out the cast are Nino Alejandro, Reb Atadero, Steven Conde, Maronne Cruz, Rhenwyn Gabalonzo, Jep Go, Leanne Mamonong, Jill Peña, Bibo Reyes, Dean Rosen, and Floyd Tena.
Set in 1996 and based on the 2007 Israeli film of the same name, The Band’s Visit is about an Egyptian police band that goes to Israel to play a concert and instead winds up in a remote village in the middle of the desert. With no hotel, no means of travel, and one singular payphone, they decide to wait out their fate at a local cafe, where they meet the residents and are taken in for the night. Under the magic of the desert sky, these lost musicians just might find their way, and this sleepy town just might find the spark and vibrancy it needs.
The show, with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and a book by Itamar Moses, came to Broadway in 2017 with lead actors Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub. In the following year it won 10 of the 11 Tony Awards for which it was nominated — making it one of four musicals in Broadway history to win the unofficially deemed “Big Six,” including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, and Best Direction of a Musical.
In 2019, the original Broadway cast recording for The Band’s Visit won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. As it centers on a classical band from Egypt, it’s only apt that the score and the songs would be central to the show in a way that goes above and beyond what is expected of a musical.
David Yazbek’s compositions have taken plenty of inspiration from the fictional band’s Middle Eastern roots, making for a sound that’s unique and full-bodied, intimate and dynamic like the show itself — especially with an orchestra that makes use of authentic instrumentation from the region like the oud and the darbuka. The songs reflect not only the time and place, but also the comedy, romance, and sense of community that permeate the story.
The Band’s Visit begins as a comedy of errors and an awkward clash of cultures that evolves into a touching journey built on human connection and finding common ground through music. It’s for anyone who’s ever had a dream or longed for something far-off, anyone who’s ever felt lost and like they don’t belong, and anyone who’s ever identified as a hopeless romantic. It tells us that all we ever need in life is someone to talk to, someone who’ll listen — and maybe a good heartfelt song or two.
The Band’s Visit will launch Atlantis Theatrical’s 2020 season and will run from March 13 to 29, 2020 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza, Makati City. Tickets are available through TicketWorld. Visit www.ticketworld.com.ph or call 8891 9999.