Starring: Chilina Kennedy, Sasson Gabay
Director: David Cromer
Music and Lyrics: David Yazbek
Book: Itamar Moses
Venue: Ed Mirvish Theatre
Run Information: The Band’s Visit is currently running through October 20, 2019.
“Nothing is as beautiful as something that you don't expect,” sings Dina (Chilina Kennedy), the down-on-her-luck cafe owner in Itamar Moses and David Yazbek’s The Band’s Visit, a sublimely beautiful new musical that we didn’t know we needed, now more than ever. Unlike any other musical to come out of Broadway in recent memory, this delicate, soft, and profound piece is an intoxicating hymn to the power of human connection.
Based on the 2007 film of the same name, The Band’s Visit follows the members of the Alexandrian Ceremonial Police Orchestra after a communication error lands them in the remote desert town of Bet Hatikva instead of their intended destination of Petah Tikvah. In “the middle of nowhere,” the orchestra meets Dina and her two cheeky workers, who agree to host the unexpected visitors for the night.
Adapted by Itamar Moses, the story lacks a substantial plot; the Egyptians arrive, stay for one night, and then depart for Petah Tikvah the next morning. And yet, it completely works. Rather than relying on intense action, The Band’s Visit is a collection of vignettes. Over the course of 100 minutes, the audience gets a glimpse, almost in real time, of the bonds that form between the two unlikely groups of fragile, broken souls.
Tewfiq, the orchestra’s conductor, connects with Dina over her admiration of Omar Sharif and Umm Kulthum. Throughout the course of the night, Dina questions whether she has finally found her Omar Sharif in Tewfiq. As the cafe owner, Kennedy gives a deep and layered performance. From her first entrance, Kennedy commands the stage and the audience can immediately see the emotional baggage that Dina carries. When Kennedy sings, her lush and rich vocals breathe life into David Yazbek’s ethereal melodies and potent lyrics that reveal so much of the character’s hidden emotions. Gabay, reprising his acclaimed role from the film, is captivating as Tewfiq and carefully navigates the complexities of his character, who slowly reveals his heartbreaking past.
At the beginning, some of the characters come off as hollow and caricaturish. Haled (Joe Joseph, who delivers a strong performance), the orchestra’s trumpeter, seems nothing more than an outspoken fan of Chet Baker. But as the night progresses, the characters reveal more about themselves and their arcs become more profound. Perhaps the only character that remains stilted throughout the whole evening is Papi (Adam Gabay, son of Sasson Gabay), an overstuffed character who is too shy to talk to girls until Haled, a true lady’s man, gives him a little push. It also doesn’t help that Gabay pushes the comedy too far and pops the bubble at points during this delicate show.
Despite the small missteps, David Cromer’s restrained direction carefully threads the darker moments with the sharp humour in Moses’s book, particularly between the show’s two opening numbers. “Waiting”, a melancholic lament of life in the desert by the citizens of Bet Hatikva, is framed with tableaus on Scott Pask’s gorgeous set, which features a well-used turntable to represent the repetitive cycle of life in the desert. This is immediately followed by “Welcome to Nowhere”, a song filled with self-deprecating humour that Dina and her workers sing to greet their disorientated guests. But what is most special about Cromer’s direction is his ability to allow the show to breathe. Due to the language barrier between the Israelis and the Egyptians, not much is spoken between the two groups. The silence in the show reveals just as much, if not more, than the dialogue. Cromer’s sleight control of these periods of silence, some taking up the majority of a scene, help reveal the unspoken humanity between all the characters.
Silence, especially to the extent that it is used in this production, is exceedingly rare in this era of large, bombastic entertainment. It is just one of the aspects that make this quiet, introspective show unique. The Band’s Visit is certainly not for everyone, as was the case on opening night as over a dozen audience members strutted out of the theatre with bags in hand before the show even reached the halfway mark. It is a work of art that demands an audience’s full attention and patience. And in the end, that patience and focus pay off. While loose ends are left to dangle and not much more is known at the end than what was introduced at the beginning, the incomplete ending still feels right. In a way, it mirrors our messy, complex, and unfinished lives.
The show’s final song, “Answer Me”, is perhaps its most potent. The only song in the show to feature the entire cast singing as one, it reveals the characters’s longing for connection in their lonely, barren world, much like our own. It is spine-tingling.
Today, several North Toronto C.I. students participated in the Fridays for Future strike, a global movement started by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Thunberg joined Canadians today in Montréal's protest.
Joshua Chong, who is in his fifth year at NT, says "It was inspiring and humbling to be a part of a global movement fighting for climate justice. Climate change is the most pressing issue our generation is facing and it was amazing to see so many youth and young children being engaged." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Approximately 15 000 people rallied in front of Queen's Park, and 20 000 people marched in the demonstration, according to police estimates. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Video and photos by Sara Chiarotto O'Brien and Emily Sakaguchi.
By Olivia Wright
Last Thursday, North Toronto Collegiate Institute participated in the #StudentsSayNo walkout in a peaceful protest against Doug Fords cuts and changes to the Ontario education system. Our school rallied alongside thousands of students, teachers, parents, and politicians throughout Ontario to advocate our disapproval of the Ford governments plans regarding programs and funding necessary for students succession in school and continuing studies. Some of the changes include larger classrooms, mandatory e-learning courses, cuts to OSAP funding, cuts to special-ed programs and many more cuts and changes to fundamental learning programs.
By Daphne Oriotis, Olivia Gottschalk
Cleaning out your closet and need inspiration for your spring wardrobe? Here is a lot our springtime essentials.
2. Pull out that jean jacket because they are a classic and never go out of style. You can even find the best ones at your local thrift store for cheap.
3. Add some colour to your look with some fun multiple coloured nails!
By Abby Waldman
So as you are probably aware of (unless you live under a rock or were studying like me), the Oscars just happened. And a lot of stuff went down. So here’s a quick play by play of who won, what happened, and how they survived being hostless.
Best Original Song: Shallow -- A Star is Born
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Rami Malek -- Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Olivia Coleman -- The Favourite
Best Picture: Green Book (this shocked everyone, since Bohemian Rhapsody won most of the awards throughout the night, including Best Actor in a Leading Role)
And now, the biggest news of the night. Yes, the Oscars were host-less. However, people really enjoyed it. The show started off with an amazing performance by Queen featuring Adam Lambert as lead singer. Then we got a few funny monologues and pre-award presentation speeches from the presenters. People actually enjoyed watching the show without any random interruptions or a long monologue to start off the show and interrupt multiple times throughout the show. Overall, this year’s hostess Oscars were shocking, record-breaking, and overall, pretty interesting to watch. Now that only leaves us with one question: who’s hosting next year?