Interview

'The Band's Visit' visits PPAC June 25-30

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Interview

By DON FOWLER

In an era of glitzy, blockbuster Broadway musicals, along comes a sweet, simple, stylish story about romantic love and love and understanding for others.

“The Band’s Visit,” with book by Itamar Moses and music by David Yazbek, begins its national tour in Providence June 25-30.

Itamar Moses was sitting at his desk, doing what he does best – writing stories – when the phone rang.

Had he ever heard of the movie, “The Band’s Visit?”

Would he like to adapt it for the stage, with David Yazbek collaborating on the music?

Moses, who has written for television, movies and theatre, had heard of the movie but couldn’t recall having seen it.

“I watched the film,” Moses said, “and looked at it through that context. My parents are Israeli, and I’ve been there more than once, so I could make the connection.

“I wrote as if it was a play with no songs, and then I sat down with David and we found places in the script where a song fit perfectly. It was sort of an organic process. David is half Lebanese, and he understands the language and the musical style.

“The musical is quite different from what you would expect,” Moses added. “It is a tale of affection, told simply through the eyes of people who come from different places and different cultures. People reach across borders, generations, genders…and they connect.

“The story comes to us at a time when people are ready for it. It is a story people want and need to hear.”

The musical tells the story of an Egyptian police band sent to a remote village in the middle of the Israeli desert after a mix-up at the border. With no bus until morning and no hotel in sight, these unlikely travelers are taken in by the locals. Their lives become intertwined in the most unexpected ways.

Moses is a prolific writer, having written for TV, movies and the stage, but it is the theatre that he loves the most.

“While I can reach a huge audience through television, I can be in control creatively when writing for the stage. It is a more personal approach,” he said.

Moses shares his time between New York City and L.A. and is much in demand. He is currently working on a new play, “Whistleblower,” and hopes to catch the rehearsals of “The Band’s Visit” in Providence.”

“I have a great affection for Rhode Island,” he said. “Both of my parents graduated from Brown.”

Perhaps Trinity or Gamm would be interested in producing one of his plays. His success with “A Band’s Visit” has brought him fame and success, as the musical has won many awards.

For reservations call 421-ARTS.

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