Chita Rivera Pays a Visit to Revamped Kander and Ebb Musical at Williamstown Tonight

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31 Jul 2014

Chita Rivera in rehearsal
Chita Rivera in rehearsal
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Two-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera stars as a woman seeking love and revenge in a new staging of the Kander and Ebb musical The Visit, which begins performances July 31 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival under the direction of Tony winner John Doyle.

The new, streamlined and intermissionless version of the musical officially opens Aug. 2. 

The Visit has music by John Kander, lyrics by the late Fred Ebb and a book by Tony Award winner Terrence McNally.

The production marks the third collaboration for Kander and Ebb, McNally and Rivera. The artists previously worked together on The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman, both of which led Rivera to Tony Award wins for her performances.

Doyle (Sweeney Todd, Company) helms the new, revised version of The Visit, which runs through Aug. 17. Tony nominee Graciela Daniele (Ragtime, The Rink, Drood) choreographs. 



The creative team has long been hopeful that The Visit will have a New York life. 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.

"We've been dying for New York audiences to have it," Tony-winning book writer McNally told Playbill.com in a 2011. "I think it's riper than ever to be heard." Kander added, "This piece has been a very gratifying experience. When we got it to the point that it was at, at the Signature, I think we all felt proud and satisfied. The fact that it was not coming to New York seemed strange and sad for a lot of reasons."

In recent years Williamstown has developed the new musicals Far From Heaven and The Bridges of Madison County, both of which set New York debuts within a year of their premieres there. No announcement of a New York transfer for The Visit has been made. 

According to Williamstown, "Rivera embodies Claire Zachanassian, the oft-widowed richest woman in the world, in The Visit. When Claire returns to the hardship-stricken town of her birth, the locals pray that her wealth will bring them a new lease on life, but the carefully plotted renewal she offers carries a dreadful price. Sardonic and morally complex, The Visit asks: What can your heart afford?"

In a fall 2013 interview with Playbill.com, Rivera said, "It’s, to me, very exciting, very unique, dark [and] passionate. It’s one of the last scores Freddie and John wrote [together]."

The cast also includes Tony Award winner Roger Rees (Nicholas Nickelby, Peter and the Starcatcher), John Bambery (June Moon), Jason Danieley (Curtains, Next to Normal), Matthew Deming, Diana DiMarzio (Sweeney Todd), Melanie Field (Evita), David Garrison (Titanic), Rick Holmes (Spamalot), Judy Kuhn (Passion, Fun Home), Jude McCormick, Tom Nelis (Passion), Chris Newcomer (Chicago), Aaron Ramey (Young Frankenstein, Curtains), Timothy Shew (Evita, Les Misérables) and Michelle Veintimilla.

A veteran Broadway design team has been assembled, including Tony-winning scenic designer Scott Pask, Tony-winning costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, Tony-winning orchestrator Larry Hochman and Tony Honoree for Excellence Paul Huntley (hair and wig design). They are joined by Tony nominee Japhy Weideman (lighting design), Tony nominee Dan Moses Schreier (sound design), Angelina Avallone (make up design) and veteran musical director/supervisor David Loud. Libby Unsworth is stage manager.

For tickets, visit WTFestival.org.

Watch the cast and creative team speak about the new version of The Visit below: