Interview by Christine Thompson
WINNER OF 10 TONY AWARDS® INCLUDING BEST MUSICAL and GRAMMY® AWARD FOR BEST MUSICAL THEATER ALBUM. HOUSTON TICKETS ON SALE HERE
Adam Gaby, who plays Papi in his National Tour Debut of smash hit play The Band’s Visit, spoke to us from Philadelphia about the meaning of the play and why in his opinion it became so popular in a short period of time. He talked about touring with his much-lauded actor father Sasson Gabay, who plays the main character Tewfiq. It’s a character which Sasson originated in the film of the same name from 2007.
About The Band's Visit
In an Israeli desert town where every day feels the same, something different is suddenly in the air. Dina, the local café owner, had long resigned her desires for romance to daydreaming about exotic films and music from her youth. When a band of Egyptian musicians shows up lost at her café, she and her fellow locals take them in for the night. Under the spell of the night sky, their lives intertwine in unexpected ways, and this once sleepy town begins to wake up.
THE BAND’S VISIT features music and lyrics by Tony Award® and Drama Desk Award winner David Yazbek, and a book by Tony®, NY Drama Critics Circle, Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards winner Itamar Moses. It is based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin, and is directed by Tony®, Drama Desk, Lortel and Obie Award winner David Cromer.
AMFM: Your father is the originator of the part of Tewfiq from the original motion picture. And now you are touring with him for the Broadway adaptation, Acting is like a family business, isn’t it?
ADAM GABAY No, it sounds cliche, but I’ve always been into to acting, as an art, and my mother is a writer. Now we are doing it together. We are playing together, acting together everyday on the same stage, which is interesting and you may say fascinating sometimes, because now we need to find the balance between Adam and Sasson the father and son, and Adam and Sasson the colleagues, and Adam and Sasson the friends. It’s a very interesting venture.
AMFM: So is that difficult or easy?
ADAM GABAY: No, once you have the right balance, it’s easy.
AMFM: How would you explain the success of this musical in America?
ADAM GABAY: I will tell you by going back to the beginning. In 2007, Director Eran Kolorin directed the film Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (The Band’s Visit), which my father starred in with Ronit Elkabetz, God Bless her, she was an amazing actor as the main female lead. For real, this is one of the best pictures, to me, of all time. It was so sensitive and special. You are able to see the human being, above politics. It was such a good film, a good story with heart. This film received a lot of awards and came to be a big deal.
So you can understand, first of all the core of the success of The Band’s Visit, not the politics or the timing. Just the story by itself. Nowadays, everything is so political. But this story is just so good and touching.
AMFM: I understand. The story transcends the politics.
ADAM GABAY: More than that. First of all just A simple, amazing musical. It’s very good, very high quality. But more than that, America now seems to be interested and available to hear about stories that are not necessarily from here – to hear different stories, different accents, different names. Also, in The Band’s Visit, they are discovering new instruments they may not have known existed. That’s the magic, it’s a good piece that’s relevant.
AMFM: So you think it not only transcends politics, but borders, and gives people in America a chance to see people in the Middle East independent of what they see on the news. to see them heart to heart.
ADAM GABAY: Yes.
AMFM: So the magic here is different cultures are getting along in the play, and learning that they are more similar than different. What is the one most important thing you’d like the audience to take away from this?
ADAM GABAY: At the end of the day, we are all people. The Israeli’s. The Egyptians, Or Arabs and Jews. Or whites, latins or black. It doesn’t matter. We are people, and we all have fear and ambition. Everybody is scared. But we live, and then we all die. Everyone knows the feeling of unfullfilment, and we can all identify with these themes, in my opinion.