The Broadway musical The Band’s Visit will play its final performance April 7, 2019. Upon closing, the production will have played 589 regular and 36 preview performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
The Broadway production officially opened November 9, 2017, having transferred from an acclaimed Off-Broadway run at the Atlantic Theater Company, which began in December 2016.
“What a hell of a run,” producer Orin Wolf tells Playbill. “It's a bittersweet thing, [but] anytime I think about this show and the life we’ve had, I can’t help but feel joy.”
A critical and commercial success, the musical—directed by David Cromer, with a book by Itamar Moses and a score by David Yazbek (each of whom won Tony Awards for their work)—frequently appeared in "Best Of" lists and recouped its $8.75 million capitalization in September of last year, less than 12 months following first preview.
Given its financial success and its adequate grosses in a time typically slow for all of Broadway, Wolf explains the (what may seem to some) surprising announcement: “We took a careful look at what was ahead. I’ve always approached this show in a very deliberate and confident way. I never wanted to be on the receiving end of these decisions. I’ve really gotten to know our show and what it is and what it isn’t.”
He continues, “Putting a stake in the ground and having a really strong and elegant closing campaign gives us time for people to find it who have been sitting back thinking it’s going to run forever. Beyond that, the thought of going into a spring that’s going to be inundated with very big, loud shows that are going to be spending a lot of money on advertising—and a summer that is traditionally meant for family audiences and tourists—I didn’t want my show to soften beyond a place that’s acceptable to me.
“We’re a profitable show, we’ve had an incredible run, and I could not be more proud. My ego is not in this. This is about preserving the success and that knowing everything about theatre is finite and that’s sort of what makes it beautiful.”
Based on the Israeli film of the same name by Eran Kolirin, the musical chronicles a single day in the Israeli desert town of Bet Hatikva, when an Egyptian Police Orchestra bound for Petah (with a P) Tikva mistakenly wind up stranded in the “nowhere” spot. When the locals take in the travelers, unexpected bonds make for an unforgettable journey.
The musical won ten Tony Awards at the 2018 ceremony: Best Musical, Best Original Score for Yazbek, Best Book of a Musical for Moses, Best Actress in a Musical for Katrina Lenk, Best Actor in a Musical for Tony Shalhoub, Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Ari’el Stachel, Best Lighting Design of a Musical for Tyler Micoleau, Best Sound Design of a Musical for Kai Harada, Best Orchestrations for Jamshied Sharifi, and Best Direction of a Musical for Cromer. The original Broadway Cast Recording from Ghostlight Records is currently nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
The current Broadway company includes Lenk—who will sing the show's haunting "Omar Sharif" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon February 4—Sasson Gabay (who appeared in the original 2007 film), Stachel, Brandon Uranowitz, Etai Benson, Adam Kantor, Andrew Polk, Samir Shukry, Bill Army, Rachel Prather, Jonathan Raviv, Alok Tewari, Sharone Sayegh, Kristen Sieh, Layan Elwazani, Ahmad Maksoud, Pomme Koch, Jodi McFadden, Zal Owen, and James Rana; the musicians include Alexandra Eckhardt, Ossama Farouk, Dan Lipton, Philip Mayer, Sam Sadigursky, Jeff Theiss, Harvey Valdes, and Garo Yellin.
The Band’s Visit will launch a national tour June 25, 2019 at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island before heading to such cities as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.
The production features choreography by Patrick McCollum, scenic design by Scott Pask, costumes by Sarah Laux, lighting by Micoleau, sound design by Harada, projection design by Maya Ciarrocchi, hair design by Charles G. LaPointe (Hair Designer), orchestrations by Sharifi, musical supervision, direction, and additional arrangements by Andrea Grody, and musical supervision by Dean Sharenow.
“Not only did we get these reviews and have this night at the Tony Awards that was beyond all our expectations, but we made a profit, and that, to me, is extraordinary, and I want to preserve it,” he says. Wolf recognizes the reality that while his show recouped its investment and is now turning a profit—validating the risk he and his investors took to bring the intimate musical to a bigger Broadway house—subpar ticket sales next to static running costs could lower those profits and the margin of financial success. As Wolf says, “Our artistic accomplishment won’t be bettered by that.
“I hope other producers see this as an opportunity to do work that pushes the envelope and doesn’t try to satisfy the most basic expectations of what Broadway musicals are, but dares to ask audiences to lean in a little harder and listen a little more carefully,” says Wolf.
“I hope that that’s an example we’ve set. I also intend to produce other shows that are similar.”
The Band's Visit is produced by, in addition to Wolf and Atlantic Theater Company, StylesFour Productions, Evamere Entertainment, David F. Schwartz, Barbara Broccoli, Frederick Zollo, Grove•REG, Lassen Blume Baldwin, Thomas Steven Perakos, Marc Platt, The Shubert Organization, The Baruch/Routh/Frankel/Viertel Group, Robert Cole, DeRoy-Carr-Klausner, Federman-Moellenberg, FilmNation Entertainment, Roy Furman, FVSL Theatricals, Hendel-Karmazin, HoriPro Inc., IPN, JAM Theatricals, The John Gore Organization, Koenigsberg-Krauss, David Mirvish, James L. Nederlander, Al Nocciolino, Once Upon A Time Productions, Susan Rose and Paul Shiverick. Allan Williams serves as executive producer.