Concert Reviews

“The Band’s Visit” marches into Cleveland! | theater review

Are you looking for a show that has incredibly talented musicians, a bus trip mix up, laugh out load humor, and a well choreographed roller-skating scene? Playhouse Square has the show for you! “The Band’s Visit” has arrived in Cleveland to remind us all that music has the power to make us feel every emotion, and ultimately bring us together.

The show follows the story of the Egypt based Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra who have just arrived in Tel Aviv and are about to head to Petah Tikvah for a performance. When young member Haled is instructed to go buy the bus tickets, the teller misunderstands his Egyptian accent and instead sends the group on a bus to the remote desert town of Bet Hatikva. This town is far from paradise, and the villagers share about their monotonous lives in the song ‘Waiting.’

Dina (Chiliana Kennedy) , the owner of a small restaurant, invites the band to sleep at the homes of various townspeople as the next bus will not arrive till morning. She is immediately intrigued by the soft spoken band leader Colonel Tewfiq Zakaria (Sasson Gabay) and shares her life story with him, desperate to learn about his life. He shares very little, but slowly becomes comfortable enough to go to dinner with Dina. The other band members depart to other homes, one going to stay with a couple and their child, another going staying with a young man from the restaurant. As the show progresses, we get glimpses into the lives of the residents of Bet Hatikva and see how the music and stories from this Egyptian band can touch their hearts and change their lives.

Of course with a title like this, the music in this show is the real story teller. There was at least one band member on stage in every scene who was the driving force behind the musical number for that scene and the transition music. This unique approach allowed for a wide variety of instrumentation to be used a showcased through the performance. At the end of the performance the on-stage band performed together, and the audience was on their feet applauding immediately.

The beautiful music was accompanied by heart-wrenching lyrics written by David Yazbek. Songs like ‘Beat of Your Heart’ and ‘Papi Hears the Ocean‘ had audience smiling and tapping their feet, while ‘Something Different‘ and ‘Haled’s Song About Love‘ reminded us all about the heartache that comes with falling in love.

The true showstopper was the finale song ‘Answer Me‘ that brought the entire show full circle. What starts as a song about a man waiting for a phone to ring turns into a deep metaphor of our need for love and passion to be heard.

“The Band’s Visit” runs at Playhouse Square from now until November 24th. Don’t miss your chance to see this one of a kind story, and hear the music that reminds us how beautiful, challenging and magical life and music can be.

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