‘The Band’s Visit’ Tony Awards Acceptance Speeches, Ranked

At the 72nd Tony Awards, The Band’s Visit won 10 out of 11 Tonys they were nominated for. We were cheering on this beautiful musical about an Egyptian police band that accidentally ends up in a small Israeli town for one night.


Using the best lines from the winners’ speeches (chosen by us), we are going to score and rank them based on Jewishness. (They’re all already winners!) Jewishness is loosely defined (especially because not all the winners below are Jewish, but they are starring in one of the most Jewish shows to hit Broadway since Fiddler on the Roof) based on: good self deprecating jokes, references to Israelis, use of Hebrew, crying Jewish moms…

(The Band’s Visit winner speeches not included: Kai Harada, Best Sound Design, Jamshied Sharifi, Best Orchestrations, and Tyler Micoleau, Best Lighting Design.)

Here we go:

7. David Cromer, Best Direction

“Hi Mom!” (+8 points)


Jewish speech score: 8


6. David Yazbeck, Best Original Score

“A friend of mine said if you win, you can’t put 3-time-Tony-loser on your website anymore. I said, ‘Why? Why not? It’s still true.’ A glimpse into my head.” (+10 for starting with a self-deprecating joke)

“Listen, when you’re working with great artists — creative and interpretive artists — on a show about love and music and silence and truth and connection, it’s what keeps you sane during a time of lies and bigotry and decisiveness and racism and lies. Oh, did I say lies?” (+10 for shade at America’s racism and our current administration) 

“Let’s all vote in November and change things.” (+8 for telling everyone to vote) 

Jewish speech score: 28


5. Orin Wolf, Producer, Best Musical

“In The Band’s Visit, music gives people hope and makes borders disappear. Although the characters are strangers to each other, with great political divides, our show offers a message of unity in a world that more and more seems bent on amplifying our differences. In the end, we are all far more alike than different, and I’m so proud to be a part of a community that chose to support that message.” (+15 for earnest message about diversity) 

“Shiri, Naomi, and Reuven, ani ohev etchem” (+10 for “I love you” in Hebrew) 

Toda! Shukran!” (+5 for saying “thank you” in Hebrew and Arabic)


Jewish Speech Score: 30


4. Itamar Moses, Best Book of a Musical

“Wow, thank you so much. Ugh, God. Musical theater adaptation is probably the most collaborative possible form of art, so there’s a number of other people to whom this belongs, although I am going to keep it in my apartment.” (+5 for starting with a joke) 

“David Yazbeck, the man with the soul of a poet and the sense of humor of a filthy 100-year-old man.” (+8 for the greatest description) 

“My father, for convincing my mother to conceal 80% of her anxiety when I embarked on her career. And my mother, for getting my father in the years since to hold 80% of his notes.” (+25 for anxious Jewish moms) 

“And my partner, Marika, I don’t know what I’m going to complain about tomorrow, but I’m confident I’ll think of something. Thank you for listening. I love you.” (+7 for self deprecating joke about complaining all the time)


Jewish Speech Score: 45


3. Tony Shalhoub, Best Leading Actor in a Musical

“Alright listen, I know it’s late and you’re all tired… so I’m going to make this as long as I possibly can.” (+5 for starting with a joke)

“If you’ll indulge me, I want to connect this moment to a moment that occurred nearly a century ago, 1920, when my father arrived on a boat from Lebanon and first set foot here on Ellis Island. He was then just a boy of 8. Disembarked on Ellis Island, just a few short miles from this very spot.” (+25 for Ellis Island immigration story)

“Tonight, I celebrate him, and those who — all those in his family who journeyed before him, and with him, and after him. And I feel that this extremely generous gesture of yours honors not only their aspirations, their courage, their resourcefulness, and their creativity, and their selflessness. May we, their descendants, never lose sight of what they taught us.” (+30 for moving message about being the child of immigrants) 


Jewish Speech Score: 60


2. Katrina Lenk, Best Leading Actress in a Musical

“I must share this with my incredible cast and dedicated crew, brilliant creative team, our loving producers. Our whole Band’s Visit family is full of people who are so generous and so supportive with me and with each other.” (+5 for the love for the Band’s Visit community)

“I would like to dedicate this to the great Israeli actress Ronit Elkabetz, who was the original Dina.” (+20 for Israeli actress shout-out)

“To my faraway friend Lee Sher, who showed me how to be in Dina’s body.” (+20 for Israeli choreographer shout-out

“And to the great Umm Kulthum, who showed me Dina’s heart.” (+15 for Umm Kulthum love)

“Every moment of working on The Band’s Visit is a privilege and a thrill and has filled my stupid little heart with such joy. And this moment ain’t so bad either.” (+7 for tearing up. And for just being Katrina Lenk. We’re not sure if she’s Jewish but it’s okay.)


Jewish Speech Score67.


1. Ari’el Stachel, Best Featured Actor in a Musical

[Crying when he walks up] (+ 20, because everyone also started crying too) 

“Both my parents are here tonight.” (+18 starting with his parents. Honor your mother and father!) 

[Shot of his Jewish mom crying] (+10, cause, again, same)

“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. 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.” (+25 for speaking about his struggles as a Yemeni Jewish person in America)

“I’m just so thankful to Orin Wolf, John, and John, for being courageous for telling a small story about Arabs and Israelis getting along at a time when we need that more than ever!” (+30 for message of peace/hope) 

“I am part of a cast of actors who never believed that they’d be able to portray their own races. And we are doing that! And not only that, we’re getting messages from kids all over the Middle East, thanking us and telling us how transformative our representation is for them.” (+25 for REPRESENTATION)

“This is the craziest moment of my life.” (+7 for awwww) 

“I want any kid who is watching to know that your biggest obstacle may turn into your purpose.” (+15 because Ari’el won the Internet with this quote) 


Jewish Speech Score150.

Ari’el wins the night.

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