The Celebration of Music & Words that is 'The Band's Visit'
Listening to a David Yazbek score will always take you someplace. Whether it's the blue-collar grit of Western NYThe Full Monty) or the elegant style of the French Riviera( Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), there is, arguably, no better composer at transporting an audience than Mr. Yazbek. With each song, he immerses the audience in the show's setting. You can feel the rhythms and beats of the cities, taste their flavors and see both their beauty and scars.
With The Band's Visit, Mr. Yazbek has taken those skills to a new level and I have a feeling that he will transition from being one of the most underrated composers today to one of its most celebrated.
Without giving too much away before its November 9th opening(and our review), let me say that The Band's Visit is one of those rare shows that would be equally effective in either a large theatre or black-box. The silence and noise of the show ebbs and flows like the tides of a sandy beach.
But the brilliance of Mr. Yazbek's piece is the way it underlines the human voice and at the same time, celebrates musicianship in ways rarely seen on a Broadway stage. There are moments where the score is so subtle, that the voice's importance and beauty are highlighted. Then there are times where the title characters are center stage and they are truly awe-inspiring.
Beyond the music, the words both spoken and sang are equally important. Mr. Yazbek and book writer Itamar Moses, place significance on every line of dialog and yet, also know when silence is golden. God help the souls who don't turn off their cellphones.
In an age where success on Broadway means big-budget spectacle, The Band's Visit is a welcomed change of pace. Given the expected field and Tony voting trends, I expect this year's race to be between epic visuals of Frozen and the quiet intimacy of The Band's Visit.
Photo: Tony Shalhoub, Katrina Lenk in THE BAND'S VISIT, Photo by Matthew Murph