Virginia's Signature Will Re-Visit Kander & Ebb's The Visit in 2007; Chita Returns

News   Virginia's Signature Will Re-Visit Kander & Ebb's The Visit in 2007; Chita Returns Signature Theatre, the hot resident company in the Washington, D.C. area, will give John Kander, Fred Ebb and Terrence McNally's The Visit a new lease on life in 2007, with Chita Rivera again starring.
Chita Rivera in the 2001 Goodman Theatre production of The Visit.
Chita Rivera in the 2001 Goodman Theatre production of The Visit. Photo by Eric Y. Exit

Although the production will boast director Frank Galati and choreographer Ann Reinking — who both created the 2001 Goodman Theatre staging in Chicago, and were attached a Public Theater/commercial exploration that was to star Rivera and Frank Langella — the new staging in Shirlington, VA, will be an independent venture of the not-for-profit Signature.

Given the Tony Award winning names attached, this would seem to be another reach toward a wider life for the darkly comic project about the world's wealthiest women (played at the Goodman by Chita Rivera, who starred opposite John McMartin) promising the moon to the residents of her depressed hometown. In order to secure her riches, they must murder the lover who scorned her years ago.

The Visit will open Signature's 2007-08 season. Dates will be Sept. 4- Oct. 14, 2007.

Lyricist Fred Ebb died in 2004, but three of his late-career projects with composer Kander are still circulating: Curtains (a murder mystery musical now in Los Angeles and eyeing Broadway), The Visit and All About Us. The latter is Kander and Ebb's take on Thorntown Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth. It premiered at D.C.'s Signature several years ago as Over and Over.

* The Visit has had a luckless history. The musical adaptation of Friedrich Durrenmatt's biting satire of greed and revenge was once set for Broadway, with Angela Lansbury as its star. The musical was developed originally as a vehicle for Lansbury. But the actress pulled out owing to family responsibilities. A mad search for a new lead resulted in Rivera, but the Broadway plans were scotched and the show drifted into limbo.

In fall 2001, The Visit finally got its premiere, at the Goodman Theatre. Reviews were respectable, though not the sort that would propel the show immediately to Broadway. More time passed. Further regional productions were considered.

Then, in a surprise move, producer Barry Brown and company partnered with the nonprofit Public Theater on an Off-Broadway mounting. The show was to have bowed in early 2004.

The Off-Broadway run was cancelled, however.

Galati previously told Playbill.com that McNally wrote a new draft of the book following the 2001 run. Some songs heard in Chicago were not retained for the hoped-for New York mounting, and other new tunes had been added, Galati said.

The supporting cast in Chicago included Guy Adkins, Steven Sutcliffe and Mark Jacoby.

Signature Theatre's artistic director is Eric Schaeffer. For more information, visit www.signature-theatre.org.

Chita Rivera and ensemble in <i>The Visit</i>
Chita Rivera and ensemble in The Visit
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