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Welcome to Nowhere

November 15, 2018

My favorite show we saw in New York was Tony award-winning The Band's Visit. I can't stop listening to the original Broadway cast recording on repeat. 

 

The show is based on an Israeli film of the same name. It's one of four shows to ever win the Tony's "Big Six" - Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score (David Yazbek), Best Actor (Tony Shalhoub), Best Actress (Katrina Lenk) and Best Direction. 

 

It's the story of an Egyptian ceremonial police orchestra that ends up not at the Arab Cultural Center in the Israeli city of Petah Tikva but in the fictional desert town of Bet Hatikvah.

 

(You kind of have to say it out loud to get it. It's more fun if you gargle the H with an Israeli accent.) 

 

Not only am I obsessed with the OBCR, I also can't stop repeating the line from the girl in the bus ticket window: "Petah Tikva? Or Bet Hatikvah?" 

 

"Stick a pin in a map of the desert
Build a road to the middle of the desert
Pour cement on the spot in the desert
That's Bet Hatikvah."

 - Welcome to Nowhere

 

The band has to spend the night because there's only one bus a day to Bet Hatikvah. They meet Dina, a cafe owner, and some of the locals, who offer to put them up overnight. 

 

And the music was simply poetic. Absolutely mesmerizing. 

 

There wasn't a lot of dancing in this show, like you might be used to seeing in musicals. In the interlude of Welcome to Nowhere, rather than a dance break, Itzik just spins the lazy susan on the cafe table, pointing at it proudly, then wowing everyone by spinning it in the opposite direction. 

 

"Pick a sand hill of your choosing
Take some bricks that no one's using
Build some buildings, put some Jews in
Then blah, blah, blah...
Bet Hatikvah!"
 

The citizens of Bet Hatikvah would never engage in choreographed dances. 

 

I have to admit, I thought this was going to be about Arabics and Jews finding a way to get along for a couple of hours because they had to. It wasn't that at all. The citizens of Bet Hatikvah live in isolated, monotonous routines until the band's interruption. The music of the band dismantles the barriers Dina and the others have constructed. 

 

Seriously, do yourself a favor. Go to iTunes or Amazon or wherever it is you stream music and listen to this OBCR. I have been passionately singing along to Something Different, Omar Sharif and Haled's Song About Love. I can't help but make the whirring sound of the sea on Papi Hears the Ocean. And I can't stop myself from dancing to Welcome to Nowhere. Probably because there's never a good lazy susan in front of you when you need one. 

 

 

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