NEW YORK (AP) A small-scale, intimate musical about hard-won cultural understanding was an altogether apt Tony winner on a night where tolerance and inclusion were constant themes.
The Bands Visit, about an Egyptian police band that gets stranded in a remote Israeli desert town, forcing both sides to get to know each other, triumphed over much flashier shows to win best musical Sunday night and a total of 10 awards. The closest runner-up, with six, was the blockbuster London import Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which won best play.
One by one, the winners of The Bands Visit referenced the shows themes of acceptance and finding a common humanity. Tony Shalhoub, named best actor in a musical, spoke of his fathers arrival at Ellis Island from Lebanon in 1920. May we, their descendants, never lose sight of what they taught us, he said. Ariel Stachel, who won for best featured actor, praised the show for telling a small story about Arabs and Israelis getting along, at a time that we need that more than ever. Addressing his parents in the audience, Stachel, whose father was born in Israel, confessed that for so many years of my life I pretended I was not a Middle Eastern person.
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