Broadway musical The Band’s Visit swept the Tony Awards Sunday night, taking home 10 trophies, including Best Musical.
The most controversial part of the evening that took place at Radio City Music Hall was when veteran actor and activist Robert De Niro launched a profanity-laced tirade at President Trump during the politically charged awards show, earning him a standing ovation from the uber liberal Broadway theater world.
“I’m gonna say one thing: F—- Trump!” he stated, according to a FOX News report, as he clenched his two fists in the air, leaving panic-stricken broadcast censors trying bleep out the remarks. “It’s no longer down with Trump, it’s f—- Trump!”
U.S. viewers at home heard dead silence, though in other regions the f-bombs reportedly weren’t censored. The expletives sparked a roaring reaction from the audience, with many of the celebrities standing up.
In other major Tony categories, the musical also won Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Tony Shalhoub, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Katrina Lenk, and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Ari’el Stachel, who is the first Israeli to ever win a Tony Award.
Stachel is a Yeminite Jew, whose father was born in Israel. His father’s parents emigrated from Yemen to Israel and his mother is an American Ashkenazi Jew. His parents me on a kibbutz.
Itamar Moses and David Yazbek, who wrote the script and songs for the musical, respectively, won Best Book of a Musical (referring to the spoken, as opposed to sung, portions of a musical) and Best Original Score. David Cromer, the director of the play, won Best Direction of a Musical, and the musical also won Best Orchestrations, Best Sound Design in a Musical, and Best Lighting Design in a Musical.
Based on the 2007 Israeli film directed by Eran Kolirin, the story tells of eight Egyptian musicians from the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, led by Tawfiq Zakaria (played by Shalhoub), who are supposed to play in Petach Tikvah but end up in the fictional Negev town of Beit Hatikvah after a misunderstanding due to the band members’ Arabic accents. In the town, the musicians are shown around by the owner of the local café, Dina (played by Lenk). Over the course of the day that the musicians spend in Beit Hatikvah, the Israelis and the Egyptians get to know each other a little better, and by the end, the two groups part with a little more understanding of each other. The film won major awards at the Ophir Awards, Israel’s award ceremony for Israeli cinema, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. It also won the Jury Heart-throb Prize in the Un Certain Regard category at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
The musical premiered Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company in 2016, when it won 11 awards at the Obie Awards, including the awards for Musical Theater and Directing. It then moved to the Ethel Barrymore Theater on Broadway in 2017, where it’s received near universal critical acclaim.
The Band’s Visit was also nominated for Best Scenic Design in a Musical, which it lost to Spongebob Squarepants.
By: Matthew Silken
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