“It becomes a very personal experience to each audience member,” reveals Katrina Lenk of her Broadway musical “The Band’s Visit.” Lenk portrays Dina, an Israeli woman who befriends a troupe of Egyptian musicians stranded in her small town. Her performance has earned the actress her first Tony Award nomination. Listen to our exclusive interview above.
Each audience member leaves with such a personal connection to the piece because of the musical’s structure. Like the film it is based on, the musical concerns itself with what isn’t being said and what happens between lines of dialogue or song. Lenk loves this aspect of the piece because each viewer “is able to imagine what the person is thinking… and bring their own experiences to the viewing of the show. There’s a lot of interpretation going on.”
Part of the reason the story hooks the viewer is the indescribable chemistry between Lenk and her co-star Tony Shalhoub, who plays the band leader Tewfiq. Why do they work so well together? “I don’t know, he’s so impossible!” she jokes, before confessing that he is “wonderfully down to Earth” and they “just clicked right away.”
A conversation between Dina and Tewfiq leads to one of the most beautiful numbers in the show, and indeed this entire Broadway season: ‘Omar Sharif.’ “There was something really familiar about it,” Lenk says of her signature song. “The song itself is this wonderful mix of familiar and unfamiliar. It pulls you in while it’s also shaking your hand.” The tune, which sees Dina getting lost in a memory of the last time she felt hope and safety is a star-making moment.
While her haunting performance has already garnered a Lucille Lortel Award for the Off-Broadway run, Lenk’s “very surreal” Tony nomination has her stunned. “I still don’t really believe it,” she admits.
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