‘The Band’s Visit’ returns to the Kennedy Center with Sasson Gabay


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The film-turned-stage-musical “The Band’s Go to” could also be set in a desert city, however the eminent Israeli actor Sasson Gabay has discovered the property to be fertile territory.

Gabay created the character of a reserved orchestra chief named Tewfiq within the 2007 film about an Egyptian police band that unintentionally will get stranded in a sleepy, remoted Israeli city, the place musicians and residents strike up a rapport. It’s a quiet story, crammed with poignancy and delicate humor and boasting a mere wisp of plot. When Gabay heard there have been plans to show it right into a musical, he remembers considering it was “the craziest concept ever.”

The variation went forward, with David Yazbek offering music and lyrics, Itamar Moses offering the e book and Tony Shalhoub (TV’s “Monk”) originating the present’s model of Tewfiq. Directed by David Cromer, the 2016 off-Broadway manufacturing transferred to Broadway in 2017 and went on to win a whopping 10 Tony Awards, together with greatest musical. When Shalhoub left the forged in 2018, the no-longer-skeptical Gabay returned to the Tewfiq position, first on Broadway after which on tour.

‘The Band’s Visit’ is gentle, soulful, tuneful — and the best new musical on Broadway

“The Band’s Go to” is only one spotlight of Gabay’s profession: His credit additionally vary from productions with Tel Aviv’s Beit Lessin Theater firm to the TV collection “Shtisel” to “Rambo III.” However he significantly cherishes Tewfiq, as he famous in a telephone interview earlier than the musical’s return go to to the Kennedy Heart, the place it runs by July 17 in one of many tour’s remaining stops. Talking from Worcester, Mass., the 74-year-old performer mentioned, amongst different subjects, how his Tewfiq has modified through the years.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

Q: What distinction is there between the character of Tewfiq within the film and the musical?

A: There’s a distinction between the strategy of movie and stage, though you might be certain to be truthful, to painting and produce actual feelings, everytime you do performing. However on high of that, the character grows with me. Perhaps once I was youthful he was extra sharp, stable and inflexible. Within the years since, I really feel he’s grow to be extra compassionate, extra smooth, extra mature, extra thoughtful, much less aggressive and inflexible. Individuals ask me, “How will you do the position again and again?” And I preserve answering that it’s a journey that may by no means finish. You’re all the time totally different, and also you all the time study one thing. What you wish to obtain in a sure scene is about, however there are such a lot of methods which you could say one line.

‘The Band’s Visit’ plays on, taking its star from stage to screen

Q: You’ve caught with the tour, though you’re a well-known actor and folks absolutely wish to forged you in new tasks.

A: It’s form of my child, this character and “The Band’s Go to.” Since I’ve achieved it, my profession in some ways modified, in Israel and internationally. And I actually care about this play and this character. I don’t wish to neglect it. I really feel I’m fortunate to go all around the U.S. Some individuals do this because the journey of their lives, and I do it whereas I’m working.

Q: Did the reverberations of the story of “The Band’s Go to” have an effect on your resolution to keep it up?

A: When you’re doing one thing you might be proud of artistically and idea-wise, it makes it simpler so that you can keep doing it. Additionally, I’m making a dwelling — don’t neglect this. However “The Band’s Go to” speaks about humanity and a likeness between individuals. We’re all the time related to conflicts within the Center East, however right here you see how we’re all alike. All of us have the identical want of communication, of compassion. We now have related issues. I don’t like to make use of the phrase “message,” however as a “Band’s Go to” actor, you might be form of a messenger of one thing constructive and human, and that makes it simpler to do it.

Q: You studied theater and psychology at Tel Aviv College. Has learning psychology helped you with performing?

A: Once I determined to review theater, I wasn’t positive about my potential to be an actor, though inside, I felt that I belonged to this career. Since human beings and human conduct curiosity me, I made a decision to review psychology. I don’t assume psychological data may also help you in performing, but it surely says one thing about your curiosity in individuals.

Q: How do you address the strains of touring?

A: You get used to it after awhile. The primary leg of the tour [before a pandemic hiatus] was tougher on me. It took me time to get accustomed to the equipment of transferring each two, three weeks. On the second, I do know extra how you can behave with new locations. Fortunately, I’m with my spouse [Dafna Halaf Gabay] more often than not. It makes it simpler. We’ve been to very fascinating locations; we’ve been additionally to much less fascinating locations, however in case you are curious, you could find curiosity all over the place.

Q: Something you’d like so as to add?

A: I’m actually proud and glad that this particular musical was produced on Broadway and has been profitable until this very day. The musical itself will not be a typical Broadway musical. There’s no razzle-dazzle. It’s a delicate musical with loads of silences, loads of breath. Individuals adore it, though the cultures depicted are so distant from them. It’s a journey for the viewers. After they depart the theater, one thing stays of their coronary heart and their minds.

John F. Kennedy Heart for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. kennedy-center.org.

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