Israeli stars praised in European production of famed musical

The Band's Visit starring Miri Mesika described luminous and Alon Aboutboul said to bring dignity as band leader after premiering in the UK in new production directed by Michael Longhurst; to run until December 3

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The European production of the musical “The Band’s Visit”, starring Israeli performers Miri Mesika and Alon Aboutboul, premiered in London on Thursday to rave reviews.
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  • WhatsOnStage, a UK website critiquing theater productions, reviewed the musical. “Miri Mesika is luminous”, “Alon Moni Aboutboul brings a grave dignity and a sense of deeply withheld emotion to the band leader Tewfiq”.
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    "ביקור התזמורת" לונדון
    "ביקור התזמורת" לונדון
    Miri Mesika and Alon Aboutboul in 'The Band's Visit'
    (Photo: Marc Brenner)
    Another review by the British Guardian read: “If there is a central thread in this ensemble show, it’s the near-romance between Tewfiq and Dina, the gruff conductor and the local cafe owner.”
    “In a stunning performance by Israeli performer Miri Mesika, each song reveals new textures in her voice, from sardonic iron to yearning velvet.” The Guardia wrote as it gave the musical four stars.
    A review by Time Out London also gave the production a four-star rating, describing it as “a beautiful, haunting work about loss, loneliness and the desire for human warmth.”
    The website also praised the musical’s cast. “Much of the magic is to do with the exceptional casting. In an international ensemble of mostly Middle Eastern extraction, the band members all really play instruments, with many taking on substantial acting roles too,” Time Out wrote.
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    "ביקור התזמורת" לונדון
    "ביקור התזמורת" לונדון
    'The Band's Visit' in London
    (Photo: Marc Brenner)
    The Israeli performers Miri Mesika and Alon Aboutboul received particular praise on the site. “Her Dina tough, charming, lost; his Tewfiq dignified, wounded, wise. They’re not big flashy roles though everyone on stage essentially has a small part that they nail, and it feels like the sum is greater than the individual parts,” Time Out said.
    Time Out London’s review touched on the messages in the musical, such as nationality, ethnicity and religion, concluding with more praise. “Given it was a hit on Broadway, I’m sure it could be a hit on the West End.”
    WhatsOnStage gave the production a three-star rating, and commented on the Israeli actors’ performance. “Alon Moni Aboutboul brings a grave dignity and a sense of deeply withheld emotion to the band leader Tewfiq, a man weighted by tragedy but who can conjure the magic of music even in silence as Dina, who takes him out to dinner to discuss her love of Omar Sharif, Miri Mesika is luminous, the richness of her voice matched by an ability to communicate feelings with a blink of the eye or a shrug of the shoulder.”
    3 View gallery
    "ביקור התזמורת" לונדון
    "ביקור התזמורת" לונדון
    Miri Mesika in 'The Band's Visit'
    (Photo: Marc Brenner)
    The musical is an adaptation to a 2007 film of the same name, both written by Itamar Moses, with the musical’s songs written by David Yazbek. The musical’s original production premiered in the U.S., maintaining its position in Broadway for 18 months.
    The new production is premiering in the UK, directed by Michael Longhurst and starring Mesika and Aboutboul. The European production will continue until December 3.
    The musical’s plot follows a music band from the Egyptian police force which arrives in Israel to play in the opening of an Arab culture center in Petah Tikva. The band mistakenly board the wrong bus, and arrive at a fictional town named Beit Hatikva, located in the middle of the Israeli desert.
    The town doesn’t have a hotel, which becomes a problem when the band members realize they are stuck there for the night.

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