Frank Langella in Talks to Play Schill in New York Premiere of Kander-Ebb Musical The Visit

News   Frank Langella in Talks to Play Schill in New York Premiere of Kander-Ebb Musical The Visit Frank Langella, who won a Tony Award for Fortune's Fool in 2002, is in discussions to play Anton Schill opposite Chita Rivera's vengeful Claire Zachanassian in the 2004 Off-Broadway premiere of John Kander and Fred Ebb's new musical The Visit.

Frank Langella
Frank Langella

The show will run February-March 2004 and features a book by Terrence McNally, direction by Frank Galati and choreography by Chicago's Ann Reinking. It will be staged in the Newman Theatre.

Chita Rivera starred in the 2001 Chicago world premiere of the show at the Goodman Theatre. John McMartin played Schill in that production. The show's longtime goal had been Broadway, but those plans later altered into reports of a regional berth and "various options" in Manhattan. The selected option turned out to be the nonprofit Public Theater. The Visit will be Kander and Ebb's first original musical to bow in New York since the short-lived Broadway venture, Steel Pier, in the 1996-97 season.

The musical is about Claire Zachanassian (Rivera), the world's richest woman, and the price she asks of her former beau (Langella) for saving her economically-depressed hometown. The supporting cast in Chicago included Guy Adkins, Steven Sutcliffe and Mark Jacoby.

Galati told Playbill On-Line that McNally recently wrote a new draft of the book. Furthermore, some songs heard in Chicago will not be retained in the New York mounting, and other new tunes have been added.

Rivera is currently in the Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway revival of Nine. *

Barry Brown, Anita Waxman, Elizabeth Williams and Kevin McCollum are The Visit's commercial producers. At one point, several seasons back, The Visit starred Angela Lansbury and was on the fast track for Broadway. When Lansbury dropped out to tend to her sick husband, the project stalled until it found a home at the Goodman and a new star in Rivera.

Kander and Ebb are currently enjoying a late-career moment in the sun with the astounding success of the movie version of their show Chicago.

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Headed by producer-director George C. Wolfe, The Public Theater season will kick off with Caroline, Or Change, a new musical boasting a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner.

Kushner, whose Angels in America will soon make its way to HBO, has written a story about an African-American woman working as a maid for a Jewish family as the civil rights movement is about to ignite. Caroline features music by Thoroughly Modern Millie's Jeanine Tesori and direction by George C. Wolfe. Set in 1963 Louisiana, Caroline, Or Change is scheduled to begin previews at the Newman Theater in the fall.

Also scheduled for fall previews is the world premiere of Tracey Scott Wilson's play, The Story. A co-production with the Long Wharf Theatre, The Story concerns an African-American reporter who searches for the truth behind the brutal murder of a white man. Loretta Greco will direct the production, which will play the Martinson Hall.

Lisa Kron will return to the Public in March 2004 with the world premiere of her play Well. Directed by Leigh Silverman, Well presents an "intimate portrait of family dynamics."

The 2003-2004 season will also include two additional productions to be announced at a later date as well as a partnership with the LAByrinth Theater Company. The Public will host a residency of the LAByrinth Theater Company that will include the LAByrinth's own work and, possibly, a first time collaboration between the two organizations.

The Public Theater is located in Manhattan at 425 Lafayette Street. Tickets are available at the theatre’s box office or by calling (212) 239-6200. For more information, visit the Public Theater at www.publictheater.org.