‘Band‘s Visit‘ gets 11 Tony nods

The Band’s Visit, the Broadway show based on an Israeli film, was nominated on Tuesday for a whopping 11 Tony Awards. That places the show just behind Mean Girls and Spongebob Squarepants for the most nominations over-all, and tied with Angels in America.

The Band’s Visit was nominated for best musical, best lead actor for Tony Shalhoub, and best lead actress for Katrina Lenk. It was also nominated for best original score for David Yazbek, best book for Itamar Moses, best featured actor for Ariel Stachel, as well as for best direction, best orchestration, best scenic design, best sound design and best lighting design. Stachel, who comes from a Yemenite-Israeli family, plays Khaled in the show – his first ever role on Broadway.

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The cast was live on The Today Show on Tuesday morning when they were informed of the news, and were overjoyed to hear.

“If someone had asked me what would be the most unlikely thing to happen in my career,” said Shalhoub, “this would be it – to be nominated in a musical.” The actor added that the show is “just a really unique story about people coming together through music.”

Shalhoub, best known for his role on the TV show Monk, exited The Band’s Visit earlier this year. In the coming months, Sasson Gabai, the veteran Israeli actor who portrayed the lead role of Tawfiq in the film, will be taking on the role on Broadway as well.

“I’m very excited to replace him,” Gabbai told Yediot Aharonot in February. “This is a surprising journey of a film shot in Yeroham which has made it all the way to Broadway.”

Many of the cast members have said that they traveled to Israel to get a feel for the place, the people and the accent before taking on their roles.

The 2007 film, The Band’s Visit, was critically acclaimed when it was released in Israel, receiving eight Ophir Awards, including for best film, best director, best lead actor for Gabbai and best lead actress for the late Ronit Elkabetz.

The plot follows an Egyptian police band that arrives in Israel to play a concert. After a mix-up at the border, they are sent to a remote village in the middle of the desert. With nowhere to go, the unlikely guests are taken in by the locals, and “their lives become intertwined in the most unexpected ways.”

The musical adaptation first premiered off-Broadway in late 2016, and moved to Broadway in November 2017. The New York Times called the Broadway adaptation “one of the most ravishing musicals you will ever be seduced by.”

The Tony Awards will be held in New York City on June 10.