“Once, not long ago,” we learn in a prologue for The Band’s Visit (at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre), “a group of musicians came to Israel from Egypt. You probably didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t very important.” Bravo for one of Broadway’s least-explored virtues, humility. That dry, slightly arch tone carries on throughout this bittersweet musical, and the effect it creates is enchanting. This is one of the true standouts of the Broadway season.

Based on the non-musical 2007 Israeli film of the same title, the show matches infectious musical numbers with an enticingly low-key story. The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, invited to Israel to play at an Arab cultural center in an arts-loving city called Petah Tikvah, takes the wrong bus and instead arrives in Bet Hatikvah, a dusty nowheresville in the desert....


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