Writing a book for a musical is a challenging task for any author. Itamar Moses, despite all his success as a playwright, found it to be downright daunting.
Yet the Berkeley native found a project that drew him in. After a successful off-Broadway run in 2016 followed by a triumphant Broadway transfer, Moses’ initial reticence of handling the script for The Band’s Visit paid off with a stunning statuette—the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical in 2018.
The show, which garnered 10 Tonys in total, including the Best Musical prize, makes its Bay Area debut at BroadwaySF on Tuesday, Jan. 11. The show will continue through Feb. 6 at the Golden Gate Theatre.
The musical is based on the 2007 Israeli film of the same name written and directed by Eran Kolirin. (The film’s original star, Sasson Gabay, also plays the leading role of Colonel Tewfiq in BroadwaySF’s production.) Eight men of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra are booked to play a concert at an Arab cultural center located in Petah Tikva, Israel, but a miscommunication accidentally puts them in Beit Hatikva, a sleepy town without much going on. Through a series of poignant interactions, the forlorn citizens are forever changed by the powder blue band through the show’s 100 uninterrupted minutes.
Writing for a medium where songs are the stars of the show, the script always has the potential to be an afterthought, which Moses understands.