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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Human connection through the journey: “The Band’s Visit”

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T. Charles Erickson

The Tony Award-winning musical “The Band’s Visit” is a feel-good story showcasing what it means to be human in a hectic world. The characters find value through intimate connection, emphasized through their universal understanding of the song. 

The curtain first rises to an Egyptian classical orchestra band in a militant lineup waiting to catch a bus to Petah Tikvah. Due to a language misunderstanding, the band is transported to Bet Hatikvah, and here, audiences meet the people who call the simplistic town home. 

From this first encounter, the audience is exposed to the contrasting tone in the characters’ nature with costumes and staging. A small Israeli Cafe is where the characters meet. The band, costumed in cold blues, remains uniform and reserved from both the crowd and the new characters. The people of Bet Hatikvah are free-natured, creating an inviting atmosphere for the audience. 

Dina, played by actor Jennifer Apple, is energetic in uniting the disparate groups. Dina seeks out communications with the conservative-natured Egyptian band leader, Tewfiq. Tewfiq and Dina communicate with Yazbek’s lyrics, such as “Nothing is as Beautiful as something you don’t expect,” creating universal themes. 

Finding the joy and profound beauty in life’s unexpected little moments is where this play resonates with the audience. Viewers are brought into the characters’ hearts with captivating music that transports them to a distant land. This is where communication, despite cultural differences, is valued, and songs bring people closer. 

Josephine Moshiri Elwood, an Emerson alum, showcases themes of connection found through the musical score. In an interview with the Beacon, Elwood dove into what it takes to get into the role of Julia, from learning a new skill to developing as an actor.

“For me, one of the biggest challenges of this role was learning to skate. I know it sounds kind of out of left field, but I’m bringing it up,” Elwood said. “I was so anxious and nervous to get on skates because I haven’t been on skates since I was very young, and I was never really great at it, but skating for the first time and being terrified kind of told me a lot about what it was like to live inside Julia’s body.”

Elwood plays “Julia,” who counters Jesse Garlick, playing “Papi.” The two actors play on-stage love interests and are also in a relationship off-stage.

“I’ve never worked with Jesse together professionally. It’s such a joy to work with him and to be these two young people on stage who are overcoming obstacles and making a connection,” Elwood said. “It’s really sweet.”” 

When asked what advice Elwood has for up-and-coming theater and performance majors at Emerson, she says to keep professors close but friends closer.

“Work hard at what you love. As long as you love it, keep on doing it. If you discover something you don’t love, it’s okay to let it go,” Elwood said. “We talk about making connections in the business and everything, but I think a big thing is you never know who you might meet at what point in their career. You might meet somebody who’s just beginning, and you could end up collaborating with them in years to come.”

The characters of “The Band’s Visit” show a modern viewer that finding joy in unexpected experiences and relationships will fulfill you. Being hopeful along the journey permeates the stage to the hearts of the audience. In the chaos and harsh realities of the modern world, The Band’s Visit” will bring you on a roller coaster, leaving you refreshed with humility and a newfound understanding of the person next to you. 

“Something that makes this show so special is that it is simply about finding connections with people unlike us,” Elwood said. “People who might come from different countries, who might have different experiences, different backgrounds, and the beauty that can be when you take the time to get to know someone who you might think you have nothing in common with.”

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