Cleveland Heights native Orin Wolf's 'The Band's Visit' Wins 10 Tonys

Orin Wolf accepting the Tony Award for "Best Musical" for "The Band's Visit." [photo: Theo Wargo - Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions]
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Growing up in Cleveland Heights, Orin Wolf acted in theater productions both at University School and Cain Park. 

Little did his high school friends and teachers know, he'd go on to win multiple Tony awards on Broadway as a producer. 

"For me as someone who always loved the theater, but didn't really love acting, once it clicked that producing was something I could do it just all made sense," Wolf said.

With Tony-winning shows like "A View from the Bridge" and the musical adaptation of "Once," Wolf began making a name for himself on the Broadway circuit. 

But earlier this month, Wolf cemented his producer status when his show "The Band's Visit" shocked the theater world by winning 10 Tonys.

Orin Wolf [photo: Chad David Kraus]

Wolf first came up with the idea in a movie theater back in 2007 after watching the acclaimed Israeli film about an Egyptian band stranded in Israel, which served as the inspiration for the musical.

"The movie ended and the credits were rolling and I turned to [my wife], and in this moment of clarity I said, 'I want to stage this,'" he said.

But acquiring the rights from filmmaker Eran Kolirin took years.

"When I first approached him he said, 'I don't want you to take all these actors and put them in cat costumes and then have them walking around on stage.'  And I realized he said that because up to that point the only show he'd ever seen was 'Cats,'" he said.

The company of "The Band's Visit" [photo: Evan Zimmerman}

Wolf eventually convinced Kolirin and earlier this month the two shared the spoils of 10 Tony awards for "The Band's Visit" at Radio City Music Hall.

"I had my wife [Shiri] sitting next to me and Eran sitting behind me.  These two people who'd been in my life this entire journey, to be sharing it with them and to look at them and say, 'Wow this is happening,' was incredible," he said.

"The Band's Visit" [photo: Matthew Murphy]

"The Band's Visit" goes on tour next summer, but according to Playhouse Square there's no official word on when it might take the stage in Cleveland.

But if it does, Wolf will be proud.

"My Cleveland roots are tight.  I gotta tell you the theater audience in Cleveland is so strong and is so terrific.  I cannot wait for them to really embrace it," Wolf said.


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