The Tony Awards have been generous with nominations this year as contenders battle it out.
Ari’el Stachel is one of these lucky few with his Broadway debut.
Having been nominated best-featured actor as Haled in The Band’s Visit – a theatre piece based on the 2007 book of the same name (by Itamar Moses) that came after the Israeli-based film (directed by Eran Kolirin), Stachel has raised the bar on pickup lines and cultural heritage on-stage. Speaking at the announcement ceremony last Wednesday, he had this to say:
The Knockturnal: What kind of reaction are you getting from the community at this point?
Ari’el Stachel: “At like, right now – in the last 24 hours? Just an outpouring of love. I mean, my generation measures it by Instagram likes. So I just got my first post with more than a thousand likes, so that’s sort of indicative of the fact that people are supportive.”
The musical is composed by David Yazbek, and like the film falls stark into the internal conflicts of Arab-Israeli relations. Stachel’s character Haled is Egyptian, and Haled, being a jazz enthusiast and musician, has his own number called “Haled’s Song About Love” in the latter half of the tale. Being ashamed of his heritage growing up, Stachel empowers his role with energetic liberation and graceful tact.
The Knockturnal: What do you love about the character?
Ari’el Stachel: “Well, I’ll relate it to why I wept – I mean, wept because for many, many, many years of my life, I was very ashamed of my Middle Eastern background, and sort of attended to the other identities. And so, to have been recognized in a role that celebrates that identity was a seismic shift for me, personally. And so what I love about the role is that he’s just kind of a guy and that sort of face-value – you can play him on the surface level, but what I found as I developed with the character that I could really use the full range of what existed inside of me, which is the whole range that you see.”
According to Broadway.com, Statchel auditioned for The Band’s Visit up to seven times. Speaking deeply about his desperation to reach the stage, he was certain that he wasn’t going to make the cut – until he did. Stachel and cast even traveled to Israel for research purposes, along with engaging the community at hand.
The Tony Awards 2018 premiere on June 10th.