The show begins – and ends – with a disclaimer – that it is about something that wasn’t very important. The members of an Egyptian Police Band have been invited to play at an event in a culturally conscious Petah Tikva. Due to a language mix-up at the bus station, they end up in a remote village, Bet Hatikva, in middle of the Israeli desert.
After walking to a small restaurant, Tewfiq (Sasson Gabay), the band leader, explains who they are and where they were going. The villagers tell them they’re in the wrong place –there’s no bus until morning, and there’s no hotel. When, and says they’re hungry and don’t have a lot of money. Café owner Dina (Chilina Kennedy), who is both cynical and arrogant, feeds them. She decrees that people in the village will put them up.
Dina invites Tewfiq to stay with her, while villages lead the band members off. Later, Dina and Twefiq go out to enjoy the evening. While enjoying a glass or two of wine, Dina shares her rather cynical view of life in Bet Hatikva. While sitting on a park bench, Tewfiq shares his love of music by showing her how to conduct.
In one scene, with a fretful baby, the father and the guest sing a lullaby. In another, some of the younger villagers take their guest to a roller rink. One guy spends the entire night staring at a public telephone waiting for a call from his girlfriend who left the village. Overall, as the band spend the evening with their various hosts, they might struggle to make conversation, but they connect through family, music and laughter.
Award-winning Israeli actor, Sasson Gabay, is joined by his son Adam, who plays Papi. The rest of the fine cast includes: Pomme Koch, Mike Cefalo, Ronnie Malley, David Studwell, Jennifer Apple, Marc Ginsburg, Kendal Hartse, Sara Kapner, James Rana, Or Schraiber.
By the way, don’t try to beat the rush and duck out early. If you do, you’ll miss the band – Tony Bird, George Crotty, Evan Francis, Roger Kashou, and Ronnie Malley - playing their concert.
“The Band’s Visit” runs through September 15th at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, Chicago. The best-priced parking option for Cadillac Palace is the garage on the corner of Franklin and Lake which charges only $13. Running time is 95 minutes, no intermission. For remaining performance dates and times, visit www.broadwayinchicago.com. Tickets range from $39-$106. FYI (312) 977-1710, (800) 775-2000, www.broadwayinchicago.com or www.ticketmaster.com.