Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

We see the projected words: “Once, not long ago, a group of musicians came to Israel from Egypt.You probably didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t very important.” (“Overture”)

The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra is stranded at the Tel Aviv airport when the van that was meant to pick them up does not arrive.Tewfiq, the stern conductor, decides they will take a bus instead.

We meet the townspeople of Beit Hatikva: Papi, a young café employee; Itzik, an aimless married man and his frustrated wife Iris; Dina, the world-weary café owner; and others (“Waiting”). Tewfiq and his band arrive. They ask for directions to the Arab Cultural Center where they are to give a concert the following evening, but it turns out they have come to the wrong town (“Welcome to Nowhere”). There are no more buses until the next morning, and so Dina invites the musicians to stay the night.

Dina takesTewfiq and Haled, a handsome trumpet player, to her apartment. She tells them how she ended up alone in this boring town (“It Is What It Is”). Dina invites Tewfiq to go out with her and, after some prodding by Haled, he agrees to go.

At Itzik’s place, Simon, the assistant conductor and clarinetist, and Camal, a wary violinist, have stilted conversation over dinner with Itzik, Iris and Avrum, Iris’ father. As a baby fusses in the other room, Avrum, who used to be a musician himself, tells the story of how he met Iris’ mother, his late wife (“The Beat of Your Heart”).

A young man stands by a phone booth waiting for his girlfriend to call. After Dina and Tewfiq pass by on their way out, Camal insists on using the phone to call the Egyptian embassy and is told they will call back later. Meanwhile Papi, preparing for a double-date with his friend Zelger, is approached by Haled who, over Papi’s objections, is allowed to join.

The rest of The Band, outside Dina’s cafe, plays some music to wile away the time (“Soraya”).

At a restaurant with Tewfiq, Dina reminisces about hearing the songs of the great Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum and watching Egyptian movies with her mother as a child (“Omar Sharif”). But the arrival of Sammy, a married man with whom Dina is having an affair, disrupts the mood of their dinner.

Outside the café,The Band jams on another tune (“Haj-Butrus”).

Back at Itzik and Iris’ apartment, a conversation about Simon’s inability to finish his concerto causes Iris to blow up and storm out, her frustration with Itzik finally boiling over.

Haled is at a roller rink with Papi, Zelger and their dates, Julia and Anna. After helping Haled with a suspicious security guard, Papi explains his inability to talk to girls (“Papi Hears the Ocean”). Haled’s advice in the style of his idol, Chet Baker, helps Papi to connect with Julia (“Haled’s Song About Love”).

Dina and Tewfiq sit on a lonely bench (“The Park”). She learns Tewfiq’s wife died several years ago. WhenTewfiq sings for her (“Itgara’a), she watches him, trying to understand her feelings (“Something Different”).

While waiting for Iris to come home, Itzik sings to their infant son as elsewhere Camal plays and sings along (“Itzik’s Lullaby”). When Simon comes to say goodnight, Iris returns to the apartment, causing Itzik to leave Simon alone with the baby.When the baby starts fussing again, Simon plays his concerto, finishing it for the first time, and calming the child.

The young man still waits by the phone. But when it finally rings, Camal gets to it first. It is the embassy; Camal is told they cannot help. He leaves the young man to his phone. Tewfiq and Dina return and talk outside of her apartment. She expresses her fear that if something happens between them it will end in disaster, like everything else she does. Tewfiq responds that his wife’s death was his fault; the result of their only son’s suicide for which Tewfiq blames himself. Haled returns and the three of them go inside.

In Dina’s apartment, Haled plays“My Funny Valentine” on the trumpet. Tewfiq says goodnight and goes to bed. Alone with Haled, Dina laments all her missed opportunities (“Something Different Reprise”).Then she begins to kiss Haled.

Still waiting by the phone, the young man yearns for his love (“Answer Me”). When at last she calls, the residents of Beit Hatikva and visiting musicians join in to express their private longings.

The next morning, Tewfiq, Simon, Haled, Camal and the rest of the band say farewell to Dina, Papi and Itzik. As the town of Beit Hatikva fades away, we see The Band warming up. Tewfiq stands before them. He raises his baton...drops his arms...and we go to black.

Lights up: The Band plays for us (“The Concert”).