The Visit Will Not Visit Off-Broadway as Investors Pull Out

News   The Visit Will Not Visit Off-Broadway as Investors Pull Out
John Kander and Fred Ebb's new musical The Visit, which has for years sought a New York bow, will not have its debut this season at the Public Theater, theatre spokesperson confirmed. The long-scheduled production has been scrapped, owing to the withdrawal of two major investors, Jeffrey Seller and Kevin McCollum, the New York Post reported.

Seller and McCollum took $500,000 of the $1.5 million budget with them. Following their departure, lead producer Barry Brown, failing to find replacement funds, decided to cancel the show, the Post reported. The production was a collaboration between the commercial producers and the Public Theater.

No reason was cited for Seller and McCollum's exit. Chita Rivera and Frank Langella were to star in the work, which has a book by Terrance McNally and a director in the person of Frank Galati.

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 Theater, with Rivera and John McMartin in the leads. 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, Brown and company partnered with the nonprofit Public Theater on an Off-Broadway mounting. The show was to have bowed in early 2004.

The cancellation comes at a time when many of the artistic participants are enjoying career highs. The film adaptation of Kander and Ebb's "Chicago" won the 2003 Oscar. Rivera was praised and Tony-nominated for Nine this year. And Langella recently won a Tony for Fortune's Fool. The musical is about Claire Zachanassian (Rivera), the world's richest woman, and the price she asks of her former beau (Langella) for saving her economically depressed hometown. The supporting cast in Chicago included Guy Adkins, Steven Sutcliffe and Mark Jacoby.

Galati told Playbill On-Line that McNally recently wrote a new draft of the book. Furthermore, some songs heard in Chicago will not be retained in the New York mounting, and other new tunes have been added.

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