Israeli-American actor wins Tony for role in ‘The Band’s Visit’ musical
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Israeli-American actor wins Tony for role in ‘The Band’s Visit’ musical

Ari’el Stachel acknowledges Yemenite-Israeli father and Ashkenazi American mother in heartfelt acceptance speech for role in play based on Israeli film

Ari'el Stachel accepts the award for featured Actor in a musical for "The Band's Visit" at the 72nd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 10, 2018, in New York. (Michael Zorn/Invision/AP)
Ari'el Stachel accepts the award for featured Actor in a musical for "The Band's Visit" at the 72nd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 10, 2018, in New York. (Michael Zorn/Invision/AP)

Ari’el Stachel, the California-born son of an Israeli-Yemeni father and an Ashkenazi mother from New York, won the award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance as a romantic Egyptian trumpeter in “The Band’s Visit” .

“The Band’s Visit,” a jewel-box musical based on an Israeli film about an Egyptian band stranded in a hardscrabble Negev town, dominated its categories during the 72nd annual Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall Sunday night, winning awards for Best Direction of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Lighting Design, Best Orchestration and Best Sound Design.

Stachel, 26, is making his Broadway debut in “The Band’s Visit,” which stars Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) and the rising star Katrina Lenk. The play is based on the 2007 award-winning Israeli movie directed by Eran Kolirin.

In his acceptance speech, a teary-eyed Stachel acknowledged his parents, who were in the audience, saying the musical led him to re-embrace an identity he ha long avoided.

Ari’el Stachel, right, plays matchmaker to two shy Israelis, played by Rachel Prather and Etai Benson, in ‘The Band’s Visit.’ (Matt Murphy/via JTA)

“Both my parents are here tonight. I have avoided so many events with them because for so many years of my life I pretended I was not a Middle Eastern person,” he said. “And after 9/11 it was very, very difficult for me and so I concealed and I missed so many special events with them. And they’re looking at me right now and I can’t believe it.”

He also thanked producer Orin Wolf “for telling a small story about Arabs and Israelis getting along at a time where we need that more than ever.”

“Angels in America,” playwright Tony Kushner’s 1993 epic about the AIDS epidemic, won the award for best revival of a play for the 2018 iteration starring Andrew Garfield.

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