The Israeli-created “The Band’s Visit” won 10 Tony Awards, as its embrace of different cultures working together found a sweet spot with the voters.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

The Israeli-created “The Band’s Visit” won the most Tony Awards on Sunday, capturing 10 statuettes, including best musical, on a night when the theme of acceptance flowed through the telecast.

“The Band’s Visit” is based on a 2007 Israeli film of the same name and centers on members of an Egyptian police orchestra booked to play a concert at an Israeli city. They accidentally end up in the wrong town.

The embrace of foreign cultures working together found a sweet spot with Tony voters.

“In ‘The Band’s Visit,’ music gives people hope and makes borders disappear,” producer Orin Wolf said upon accepting the best new musical crown, saying it offers a message of unity in a world that “more and more seems bent on amplifying our differences.”

The show’s Katrina Lenk, who won best actress, said the production “filled her stupid little heart with so much joy.” She dedicated her award in part to the iconic Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum.

“The Band’s Visit” also won statuettes for best direction, orchestration, sound design, best book and score, lighting and featured actor Ari’el Stachel, who gave a heartfelt speech about his past.

“For so many years of my life I pretended I was not a Middle Eastern person,” he said, addressing his parents in the audience. He thanked the creators of the show “for being courageous for telling a small story about Arabs and Israelis getting along at a time that we need that more than ever.”

The show’s director, David Cromer, said the musical is also about loneliness and despair and asked everyone to reach out to anyone for whom “despair is overwhelming.”

The musical premiered Off-Broadway in December 2016 and won 11 awards, including the 2017 Obie Award for Musical Theatre, and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best Musical. It premiered on Broadway in November 2017.

In 2007, “The Band’s Visit” won the Cannes Audience Award, the Young Judges Award and the International Critics Award.


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