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'The Band's Visit' wins best musical in Tony sweep


Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions/AFP

Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub from The Band's Visit perform onstage during the 72nd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 10, 2018 in New York City.

NEW YORK-The shimmering musical "The Band's Visit," based on Israeli film of the same name, was the big winner at the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 10, capturing the best musical award and nine other prizes.

"The Band's Visit," about an Egyptian band that accidentally winds up in a dusty Israeli backwater, won awards for best direction, leading actor, leading actress, orchestration, sound design, original score, best book of a musical, lighting and featured actor Ari'el Stachel, who gave a heartfelt speech about his Israeli-American heritage.

"I am part of a cast of actors who never believed that they'd be able to portray their own races, and we're doing that," said Stachel.

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 show had garnered 11 nominations.

"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."

Tony Shalhoub won as best leading man in a musical for his work on "The Band's Visit," connecting the win to his family's long history of immigration from Lebanon, and the show's Katrina Lenk, who won best actress in a musical, said the production "filled her stupid little heart with so much joy."

In the show, Shalhoub plays the stiff leader of the Alexandria orchestra, who ends up opening up to an Israeli cafe owner played by Lenk.

The show centers on members of an Egyptian police orchestra booked to play a concert at the Israeli city of Petah Tikva but accidentally ending up in the drowsy town of Bet Hatikva in the Negev desert. Over the next few hours, the townspeople and the musicians learn about each other and themselves.

Before rehearsals for the Broadway production, Lenk traveled to Israel and visited Yeruham, the town that inspired the story.

Reviewing the show in November, The Times of Israel's Jordan Hoffman wrote, "Though certain aspects of the film can never be replaced, like the deadpan imagery in some of its cinematography and the marvelous performance by Sasson Gabai, the stage version takes a small cinematic curiosity and enlarges it to something bold and unforgettable."

Jewish actor Andrew Garfield won his first Tony, for best leading actor in a play, for playing a young gay man living with AIDS in the sprawling, seven-hour revival of Tony Kushner's "Angels in America" opposite Nathan Lane. He won his third, for best featured actor in a play.

Garfield dedicated the win to the LGBTQ community, who he said fought and died for the right to love.


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