The Band’s Visit arrives on Broadway

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…and A Harvest Moon bar on the 65th Floor of Rockefeller Center

The Band’s Visit, a new musical that won a lot of accolades this past year when it played at the Atlantic Theater Company, has hit the Broadway stage.

Based on an Israeli film, the production features stars Tony Shalhoub and John Cariani, as well as provides a showcase for the uber talented Katrina Lenk, and a band of exceptional musicians who are, in fact, the band.

The story is very simple, with a gentle arc. There is barely any conflict, there is not a lot of action, and the ending is predictable and wistful. But the journey with these characters is very satisfying, and the performances, especially from Shalhoub and Lenk, are outstanding. The Band’s Visit takes place in Israel in 1996. A band of musicians, traveling from Alexandria, Egypt to perform at an Arabic cultural center, mistakenly arrive in a town that sounds like the town they are supposed to go to, but instead is a tiny, sleepy village in the middle of the desert.  They come upon a cafe, owned by Dina (Katrina Lenk), and learn that there are no more buses to the location they are supposed to go to that day. With no hotels, and no transportation, they must stay overnight, and so the men are divided up and stay at various townspeople’s houses. Tewfiq, the band’s leader, who is very proper, is invited to Dina’s home.
Dina’s husband left her, she is bored by her existence, and looking to build a human connection.

The Band's Visit arrives on Broadway

Credit: Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub in “A Band’s Visit”. Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

Another band member stays with a young couple who have an infant. The wife is overwhelmed by her motherly duties, and feels trapped in a relationship with a husband that is child-like. Her father is at their house as well, because his wife, the love of his life, has died.

Then there is the sub-plot surrounding a young man who stands by a pay phone the entire span of the show, waiting for a woman he is in love with to call him. We also meet another young man who has no idea how to talk to a girl.

These are the threads of the stories in A Band’s Visit, all held together by interstitial music, actually played by the band during the production.

The book is by Itamar Moses, with music and lyrics by David Yazbek. The production is directed by David Cromer.

The yearning for human connection, transcending time, space, culture and religion, is the heart beat and the leitmotif of the beautiful and tender, The Band’s Visit.

If you go with the idea that you are embarking on a journey’s “jasmine wind”,  you will be carried away.

Be sure to check out the haunting and memorable song, “Omar Sharif”, sung by Katrina Lenk.

As someone who is an aficionado of all things Autumn, I was enticed recently to check out the Harvest Moon pop-up bar at Rockefeller Center. The bar is located on the same floor as the famed Rainbow Room (now only available for private events and special occasions).  Bar SixtyFive, which is a fabulous spot for tourists and New Yorkers alike, is situated on that floor as well.

But I wanted to go to the quieter Harvest Moon bar and experience their bar bites, beverages and ambience.
I was happy to enjoy a $12 glass of an excellent Gamay, and taste their roasted cauliflower, crab meat on toast and deviled eggs. The view is just as spectacular from the pop up-bar as that of Bar SixtyFive, and the prices are gentler too.

The Band's Visit arrives on Broadway

The Harvest Moon pop-up bar special nights have just ended, but I am sure there will be another pop-up soon. The next big event is happening on New Year’s Eve. At Bar SixtyFive, from 10 PM to Midnight, you can enjoy a champagne and caviar open bar, passed canapes, a DJ and dancing, starting from $325. The Rainbow Room will have an event open to the public with an open bar, live entertainment and dancing, and a four course tasting menu, capped off with Louis XIII cognac at midnight. The Rainbow Room New Year’s Eve party is priced at a more luxurious $695 per person.

For a taste of old world New York, and the experience of a priceless view, if your budget will allow, it may be a really swell way to ring in the new year.



  • Valerie Smaldone

    Valerie Smaldone is a 5-time Billboard Magazine Award winner and is well known for her unprecedented success holding the #1 on-air position in the New York radio market on 106.7 Life-FM, an iHeart station. She has hosted, produced, and created several award-winning nationally syndicated programs featuring in-depth interviews with stars like Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Elton John and Mariah Carey among others. Her radio talk show "Bagels and Broadway" highlighted theatre and food personalities. She is an accomplished interviewer and voice artist heard on commercials, narrations, promos and audiobooks, as well as a sought after live announcer. Most recently, Valerie produced and directed a film, The Thursday Night Club, featuring pop diva Gloria Gaynor in her movie acting debut. She is one of the creators and producers of a docu-series, Divine Renovation, starring Erik Estrada, on streaming networks soon.

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