Katrina Lenk Stars in Itamar Moses, David Yazbek Musical
This past week, The Band’s Visit had its official opening night at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, where it had been playing since its first preview on October 7, 2017. This new musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name, which was Israel’s Foreign Language submission for the Academy Awards that year, although it was rejected by the Academy because it contained over 50% English dialogue. Nevertheless, the film was a huge hit in Israel, winning eight Ophir Prizes (the Israeli equivalent of the Oscar). This auspicious start for this story has been well served by the musical adaptation. With a book by Itamar Moses (The Fortress of Solitude, Nobody Loves You, Completeness), along with a score by David Yazbek (Fish in the Dark, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), The Band’s Visit musical had its world premiere Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company in December 2016, winning the 2017 Obie Award for Best Musical. Like the Off-Broadway production, the current Broadway production is directed by David Cromer, whose previous Broadway credits include The House of Blue Leaves and Brighton Beach Memoirs, in addition to multiple Off-Broadway accolades. The cast is led by Katrina Lenk (Indecent, Once), along with Tony Shalhoub (The Price, Act One), George Abud (The Visit), Etai Benson (Wicked), and John Cariani (Something Rotten!, Fiddler on the Roof).
If the post-opening reviews have anything to do with it, The Band’s Visit will be a major awards contender this season. Ben Brantley of The New York Times went as far as to say that this is one of the most “ravishing musicals you will ever be seduced by,” referring to its “undeniable allure” and calling it “miraculous.” Adam Feldman of Time Out New York praised Katrina Lenk’s performance, describing her “languidly feline sensuality” and “knowing self-deprecation,” and stating that the Broadway production seems even richer than the Off-Broadway debut. Matt Windman from AM New York praises the show’s unorthodox choice to begin with a quiet disclaimer that the show is based on a true incident, rather than a show-stopping number that most musicals find necessary to hook their audience. Dana Schwartz from Entertainment Weekly called the show “understated” and “charming,” while qualifying that it is not necessarily “life-altering” and doesn’t hit you over the head with emotional payoff. Meanwhile, David Rooney from the Hollywood Reporter called the show “wistful” yet describes its “seduction,” discussing how the Broadway transfer keeps its “delicate alchemy intact.”
Already Selling Well, and the Reviews May Give a Boost
In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending November 12, 2017, The Band’s Visit brought in a weekly gross of $830,062, which represents 80.12% of its gross potential. Over the course of the run so far, the average percentage reached of gross potential has been 85.84%, which is not bad for a new show without any major stars or serious brand recognition. Now that these phenomenal reviews have hit the press, it is likely that the box office may begin to creep up as awards season approaches. Then, once the nominations are announced, if The Band’s Visit makes out as well as it seems it might, then the box office may continue to peak until the awards ceremony, and only then, if it takes home the award for Best Musical, might this delicate musical have a chance of real longevity. In the meantime, however, the box office is far from mediocre, and fans will be able to enjoy this show for a significant while longer.