Will Kander and Ebb's The Visit, Starring Chita Rivera, Stalk Williamstown Before Broadway?

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02 Oct 2013

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

The Visit, Kander and Ebb's dark musical based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt's play about love and revenge, may have a future life at the Williamstown Theatre Festival prior to a long-awaited Broadway bow, Tony Award winner Chita Rivera revealed in an upcoming interview with Playbill.com.

Rivera, who originated the role of Claire Zachanassian when The Visit made its debut in September 2001 at Chicago's Goodman Theatre and later repeated her work at the Signature Theatre in 2008 and in a special 2011 Broadway benefit concert of the musical, revealed that the project continues to push forward.

"I think we’re going to be doing it next season in Williamstown," 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]."

Rivera's interview with Playbill.com will appear in the Oct. 4 Diva Talk column. Chita: A Legendary Celebration, which celebrates Rivera's 80th birthday, will be presented Oct. 7 at the August Wilson Theatre.

In a separate interview with the Huffington Post, Rivera revealed that a 2014 Broadway arrival for The Visit was still a possibility. "We're going to do it with the hopes of bringing it to Broadway," Rivera said. "I want to get one more stab at it. It's quite dark but it's got some really unique and interesting things about it."



When reached for comment, Williamstown artistic director Jenny Gerston stated to Playbill.com: "It would be thrilling to have Chita at Williamstown, but it's too early to confirm anything for the 2014 summer season."

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. Far From Heaven was staged at Playwrights Horizons Off-Broadway last spring, and The Bridges of Madison County will have its Broadway premiere in early 2014.

The Visit has music by Kander, lyrics by the late Ebb and a book by Terrence McNally. The creative team has long been hopeful that The Visit would get its Broadway due. It was first announced for a 2001 Broadway bow, but the production never materialized.

"We've been dying for New York audiences to have it," Tony-winning book writer McNally told Playbill.com in a 2011 interview about The Visit. "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."

Here's how the musical has been billed: "Claire Zachanassian was driven from her hometown in disgrace when she was 17, having been betrayed by her lover Anton Schell. Several decades and seven husbands later, Zachanassian has become the richest woman in the world, yet her hometown has fallen on hard times. When Zachanassian returns with an offer to save the town, salvation comes with an outrageous price tag."

Kander & Ebb's The Visit Sings Again, With Chita Rivera and John Cullum in 2011: