The Band's Visit at the New York Vacation

After seeing the new Broadway musical The Band's Visit, some friends in the New York community decided to propose the show's music at their family vacation.

Many of us in the New York community were lucky enough to see an extraordinary musical on Broadway called The Band’s Visit. A couple of us tried to tell our friends in School of Community how much we loved it, and yet we found it very difficult to articulate why the show was so special. The show itself defied most Broadway musical standards. The music was amazing, but the show’s success was hard to pin down because, as even glowing reviews conceded, it was “A musical about moderately unhappy people who, for the most part, remain moderately unhappy at its ending,” and it had no show-stopping dances or big-finish vocal numbers. As we found ourselves recommending the show to more and more people, we still had trouble explaining why. It’s even difficult to explain the plot! What’s interesting about Egyptian band members stranded in some lonely town in the Israeli desert and getting to know the locals? Sure, they get to know the locals, but that’s about it: no big romance, no big climax, just a day and a night in a lonely town.

Then Simona asked us to give a presentation about the show for our summer vacation. The presentation was very exciting to put together because we were able to include some of the show’s gorgeous music with the help of our very talented musical friends. But the presentation also challenged us to make a deeper judgement about the show, to explore its themes of waiting, longing, desire, and hope.

We found that many of the things that make the show seem odd or disappointing were the very things that reflect human nature as it is: that waiting is the natural inclination of a human heart, that change can be barely perceptible yet still real, that you can spend a day getting to know perfect strangers and find your horizons unexpectedly stretched, and that things don’t have to be perfect for hope to be reasonable. In short, instead of dazzling Broadway climaxes, we were being treated to a lesson on The Religious Sense itself!

A good story, one that reflects human nature as it is, allows us to experience new things outside of ourselves while at the same time deepening our understanding of our own experience. This was our experience of The Band’s Visit. If the show comes to your town, try to see it, then tell us what you think!

Molly and Rachel, New York, USA