Billboard on Broadway Podcast: The Unorthodox Allure of 'The Band's Visit'

The Band's Visit
Matt Murphy

Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub in The Band's Visit.

It's fair to say that Broadway has never seen a musical like The Band's Visit -- the alluringly quiet, alternately heartbreaking and dryly humorous story of an Egyptian band of musicians stranded for one night in a desert Israeli town. After an off-Broadway run last fall widely that earned the show based on a 2007 movie of the same name praise as the year's best, it just transferred to the Great White Way to even more rave reviews.

Composer David Yazbek, along with cast members Katrina Lenk, George Abud and Adam Kantor joined host Rebecca Milzoff on the Billboard on Broadway podcast to chat about what makes their show so special.

"On paper, it might be described as a musical in which very little happens, but underneath it of course a lot happens," says Kantor. It's Yazbek's music -- a "cornucopia of sounds," Lenk says -- that carries the story along. "Each song is very character specific and has a unique sense of fun David carries with him," Kantor explains. 

The film's unique story was a big part of its appeal. "I fell in love with it instantly, and was so curious how it would be turned into a musical," says Lenk, "because it's so much about what people don't see, and stillness and awkwardness." Abud, who has Lebanese heritage, was especially "thrilled about the idea of Arabic music being incorporated into some kind of story, and that I could use my background and culture in an American musical." 

The cast and Yazbek go on to discuss his songwriting and influences, audience reactions and much more.