Photo Exclusive: A Two-Show Day With the Scene-Stealing Young Lovers of The Visit, John Riddle and Michelle Veintimilla
Based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt's 1956 play, The Visit has a score by Tony Award-winning Cabaret, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman collaborators John Kander (music) and the late Fred Ebb (lyrics). The musical features a book by Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Master Class, It's Only a Play).
A cast album will be release June 26. Fifteen years have passed since the public first heard of the project, which is based on the dark comedy by Swiss playwright Durrenmatt. In the story, millionairess Claire Zachanassian returns to the town where she grew up to wreak revenge on the man who did her wrong back in her youth. Read: Many Visits Along the Way: The Long History of Broadway’s Latest Kander & Ebb Musical
"It's extraordinary that it has made itself very much alive again thanks to [lead producer] Tom Kirdahy," Rivera said of The Visit's long-awaited Broadway arrival. "It really wants to be heard. And we want to tell it."
The production marks the third collaboration for Kander, Ebb, McNally and Rivera. The artists previously worked together on The Rink (1984) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993), both of which led Rivera to Tony Award wins for her performances.
Rivera reflected on being back in the rehearsal room with Kander and McNally. "You watch them run around and you're going, 'Wow. We're home!'" she said. "I'm home with them. It's simply inspiring and just you take it and you run with it. These are gifts! And you don't throw gifts away, not when they're that valuable."
Kirdahy is ushering The Visit to Broadway after a run at the Williamstown Theatre Festival last summer. Previews began March 26. The Visit is the final production to open before the deadline for the 2015 Tony Awards.
Tony Award-winning director John Doyle (Sweeney Todd, Company) has reshaped the musical's original two-act format into a new, 95-minute intermissionless version. The Visit features choreography by Tony Award nominee Graciela Daniele.
Rivera originated the role of Claire Zachanassian when The Visit had its debut in September 2001 at Chicago's Goodman Theatre and later repeated her work at the Signature Theatre in 2008 and at Williamstown.
She is reunited on Broadway with her Williamstown co-star Roger Rees, who again plays her long-ago lover Anton Schell.
The 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.
Standing by for Rivera is Tony Award-winning Chorus Line star Donna McKechnie.
"In The Visit, Chita Rivera shows the world what becomes a legend most," producer Kirdahy said in a statement. "Kander and Ebb's final musical is a masterwork. Fascinating, visceral and haunting, The Visit entertains and challenges in ways that can only be described as thrilling."
Here's how the plot is billed: "In her juiciest role yet, Chita Rivera is Claire Zachannassian, the world's wealthiest woman, who returns home to Anton Schell (Roger Rees) who captured her heart then shattered her dreams. What she does next shocks the town and makes for the most thrilling and intriguing musical in years... This tale of romance, seduction and betrayal proves that revenge is the best revenge."
The creative team includes Tony-winning scenic designer Scott Pask , Tony-winning costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, Tony-winning orchestrator Larry Hochman, Tony Honoree for Excellence Paul Huntley (hair and wig design), Tony nominee Japhy Weideman (lighting design), Tony nominee Dan Moses Schreier (sound design), J. Jared Janas (make up design) and veteran musical director/supervisor David Loud.
The Broadway run is produced by Tom Kirdahy, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Tom Smedes, Hugh Hayes, Peter Stern, Judith Ann Abrams, Rich Affannato, Hunter Arnold, Carl Daikeler, Ken Davenport, Bharat Mitra & Bhavani Lev, Peter May, Ted Snowdon, Gabrielle Palitz/Weatherby & Fishman LLC, Marguerite Hoffman/Jeremy Youett, Carlos Arana/Terry Loftis, Veenerick & Katherine Vos Van Liempt, 42nd.Club/Silva Theatrical and The Shubert Organization, in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival.
For further information, go to thevisitmusical.com.