The Visit, which had its premiere last fall at Chicago's Goodman Theater, may visit another city before attaining a hoped for Broadway debut. Producer Elizabeth Williams told Playbill On-Line Feb. 11 that she was talking to a few different interested cities and that the John Kander Fred Ebb-Terrence McNally show would likely enjoy another tryout before a Broadway staging was attempted. 2003 is now the probable target date the tuner's Manhattan arrival.
Chita Rivera and John McMartin starred in the generally well-received world premiere of the Durrenmatt-inspired musical. The show opened Oct. 1 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, after previews from Sept. 21. Williams said the two stars would likely headline future productions. She noted, however, that McMartin is currently busy in the Broadway-bound revival of Sondheim's Into the Woods. In the meantime, the show's creative team are busy retooling the piece.
Frank Galati (Ragtime) directed and Ann Reinking (Fosse) choreographed the tale of a depressed town and its famous former resident — Claire Zachanassian, the richest woman in the world. Claire was driven from her hometown in disgrace when she was 17, betrayed by her lover, Anton Schell (McMartin). Many years (and seven husbands) later, she returns (beautifully dressed, but with a wooden leg) to her now-impoverished stomping grounds and offers to save the town. The price? Nothing less than the life of Schell.
The musical is drawn from the 1956 play of the same name by Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The play's original title was Der Besuch der alten Dame (Visit of the Old Woman), and was produced in London and New York as The Visit starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.
The musical's cast included Guy Adkins (Karl Schell), McKinley Carter (Annie Dummermut), Mark Jacoby (Mayor Peter Dummermut), Cristen Paige (Otillie Schell), Ami Silvestri (Matilde nee Blumhard), Steven Sutcliffe (Schoolmaster Kuhn), with Scott Calcagno, Tina Cannon, Jim Corti, Mark Crayton, Joseph Dellger, Roberta Duchak, John W. Eskola, James Harms, Rob Hatzenbeller, Brian Herriott, Rosalyn Rahn Keirns, Leisa Mather, Matt Orlando, Adam Pelty, Greg Walter, Jonathan Weir, Bernie Yvon and Raymond Zrinsky. Kander told Playbill On-Line the Goodman process has been "safe" and nurturing and the company felt far removed from the pressures of commercial theatre producers and New York critics. Kander said the role of Claire is not a dance part, but Reinking has created choreography for something called "The One-Legged Tango" to show off Rivera's celebrated dance skills.
—By Robert Simonson