After an exhaustive and well-publicized search for a lead actress to replace Angela Lansbury, producers for the new John Kander-Fred Ebb-Terrence McNally musical, The Visit, have decided to postpone the production until after the 2000-2001 season.
"Yes, I think it's off," production spokesperson Shirley Herz told Playbill On-Line.
Copenhagen star and scheduled Visit co-star Philip Bosco also told Playbill On-Line that he had heard about the postponement. But that news had a bright side, he felt, because in time Lansbury might find her way back to the project. "I heard they've spoken to a number of prominent women and that they actually offered the role to a few of them," Bosco said. "But, if Angela could come back, and this all depends on her husband, who is elderly now, then that would be something I would hope for. After all, the role really was written with her in mind."
Asked if he thought the producers would offer her the role at such a juncture, Bosco said, "I think they should."
As reported earlier, after Angela Lansbury dropped out of the show July 20, due to family reasons, speculation about casting exploded, giving producer Barry Brown the sort of unwanted but not altogether harmful buzz he couldn't buy. Of the various names conjured by fans, columnists and others mentioned in connection with replacing Lansbury, Diana Rigg, Judi Dench, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, Vanessa Redgrave, Glenn Close and Shirley MacLaine top the list. Lansbury withdrew from The Visit to be with her husband, Peter Shaw, it was announced July 20. Shaw recently underwent heart surgery.
The dark tuner, which was to start rehearsals Jan. 29, 2001, for an April 2001 opening at the Broadway Theatre, would have brought Tony Award winner Lansbury (Sweeney Todd, Mame, Dear World) back to musical theatre after an absence of about 15 years, since the mid-1980s when she appeared in a revival of Mame.
Frank Galati (Seussical, Ragtime) was slated to direct, and Ann Reinking was the show's choreographer.
The musical is based on Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt's 1956 dark fable about the richest woman on Earth who returns to the depressed town where she was scorned by a man. She offers the townspeople riches if they kill him.