Des Moines Civic Center marks Broadway’s return with ‘The Band’s Visit’
Broadway is back, home and on the road, after an almost 18-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Des Moines Performing Arts is helping make it happen.
At this year’s Tonys on September 26, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” took home 10 wins, including Best New Musical. It followed in the footsteps of the best new musical of 2019, “The Band’s Visit”, which also scored 10 wins.
The Des Moines connection? Des Moines Performing Arts has invested in both shows and will host “The Bands Visit” from October 12 to 17 at Des Moines Civic Center.
“Over the past 20 years, we’ve invested in shows,” said Jeff Chelesvig, CEO of Des Moines Performing Arts and Iowa’s only voter Tony. “It’s always a pleasure when they win an award for best musical or best cover of a musical.”
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Des Moines Performing Arts invests in productions as part of the Independent Presenters Network, an organization of Broadway presenters, theaters and performing arts centers that offer large-scale theatrical productions in the United States and in Japan. Chelesvig is president of the network.
The 40 organizations that make up the network invest as a group, with members choosing to contribute or not.
“The investment for DMPA typically doesn’t exceed $ 50,000 (for a production) and it’s typically closer to $ 25,000,” Chelesvig said.
While membership in the organization does not guarantee that a particular show will stop in Des Moines, it does make it easier for Chelesvig to have conversations with the people behind the productions.
“Our very first investment in 2001 was ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’, where our organization sat down (with the producers) to say ‘We want to be in the first year of the tour’, and the answer is ‘Yes’.” remembers Chelesvig. “We were able to get this show in the first year of his tour and it wouldn’t have happened any other way.”
This show won the 2002 Tony for Best Musical. Now another investment is paying off as “The Band’s Visit” marks the resumption of live Broadway performances at the Civic Center. The show is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. from October 12 to 16, as well as at 2 p.m. on October 16 and 1 and 6:30 p.m. on October 17.
The musical follows a group of Egyptian musicians performing in Israel who end up getting lost and taken for a night out by locals. Tickets range from $ 40 to $ 154.
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Production was originally scheduled to arrive in Des Moines on May 12, 2020, before COVID-19 disrupted tour schedules. Now the touring production is back on its feet, with a mix of new and returning actors.
“I’m really happy we’re coming back to do this show,” said Sasson Gabay, who plays group manager Tewfiq in the tour company, replacing original Broadway actor Tony Shalhoub. “I didn’t think it was going to pick up again, but I’m so glad the producers told me we were going back.
Gabay is originally the role of Tewfiq in the 2007 film on which the musical is based.
After the show stopped touring in 2020 due to COVID-19, Gabay returned to Israel, where he was able to work for film and television for the past year. He has appeared in episodes of the Netflix series “Shtisel” and the HBO Max movie “Oslo”.
But when he heard that “The Band’s Visit” would be going on tour again, he said, he was thrilled.
“I love this show, I care more than the others because it has been with me for many years,” he said. “It’s not a typical musical with a lot of dancing and dazzling, it’s very delicate and sweet.… It’s a human experience and truly unique.
For more information on “The Band’s Visit” and for tickets, visit desmoinesperformingarts.org.
Other upcoming Broadway productions at the Civic Center:
February 8-13. “Tootsie.” A musical interpretation of the story of a male actor who, struggling for success, masquerades as a woman to take on the role of his life.
March 11 and 12. “Rent: 25th anniversary farewell tour.” The contemporary version of “La Bohème” celebrates a milestone.
March 22-27. “Hadesville.” A best Tony Award-winning musical that takes audiences on a journey to hell and back.
May 17-June 5. “Hamilton.” The show that set record-breaking ticket sales when it first appeared in Des Moines in 2018 was scheduled to return in December 2020, but has been postponed due to the pandemic.
2-7 August. “My beautiful lady.” A much loved new production of the classic Lerner and Lowe.
August 23-28. “Kill a mockingbird.” The Broadway production of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece.
3-8 January 2023. “Cats.” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical fantasy, multiple Tony Award winner.
March 14-19, 2023. “1776.” Before “Hamilton” there was “1776”. This production of musical narration of key events of the American Revolution comes from the American Repertory Theater.