McKechnie visited with the cast Wednesday evening and told Playbill.com, "I am loving this...and everyone involved, especially Chita!"
Rehearsals for the new musical began this week.
"Who else could go on for a Broadway legend like Ms. Rivera but another Broadway legend?" said producer Tom Kirdahy in a statement. "The tradition of an actor standing by, should the star not be able to perform, though unlikely in Ms. Rivera's case, has been turned on its ear by this news. We are ecstatic that Donna is joining our company."
McKechnie, 72, has worked steadily in theatre around the U.S. and London in the 40 years since A Chorus Line premiered, but she has rarely appeared on Broadway, the last time being State Fair in 1996. She will stand by for the 82-year-old Rivera, who plays Claire Zachanassian, a wealthy courtesan who returns to the small village where she grew up, in order to destroy the man who robbed her of her virtue when she was a girl. Based on the 1958 drama of the same title by Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt, The Visit musical has a score by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, and a book by Terrence McNally. Choreography for the two legendary dancers will be supplied by Graciela Daniele.
John Doyle directs.
Rivera will co-star with Roger Rees, who will play Anton Schell. The Broadway cast also features George Abud as Karl, Jason Danieley as Frederich Kuhn, Matthew Deming as Louis Perch, Diana Dimarzio as Annie Dummermut, Tony nominee David Garrison as Peter Dummermut, Rick Holmes as Father Josef, Tom Nelis as Rudi, Chris Newcomer as Jacob Chicken, Mary Beth Peil as Matilde Schell, Aaron Ramey as Otto Hahnke, Elena Shaddow as Ottilie, Timothy Shew as Hans Nusselin, with John Riddle and Michelle Veintimilla.
The Visit begins previews March 26 at the Lyceum Theatre.