Chita Rivera Stars in a Kander and Ebb Musical
On March 26, 2015, The Visit began previews at the Lyceum Theatre. This musical has a book by Terrence McNally (It’s Only a Play, Mothers and Sons, Master Class). As for the score, the music is written by John Kander, and lyrics are by Fred Ebb, making this the newest musical from the all star team behind Cabaret, Chicago, The Scottsboro Boys, The Rink, and Woman of the Year. This musical, which is based on a play by Friedrich Duerrenmatt, has only been staged once before in New York: for a one night only performance on November 30, 2011 at the Ambassador Theatre (where Chicago has been playing for many years). That concert performance starred Chita Rivera in the role she is now playing in an extended Broadway run: Claire Zachannassian, a very wealthy woman. This was a benefit staging produced by the Actors Fund and the Vineyard Theatre. Rivera assembled along with other cast members from a previous production at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, where the show played for just over a month in 2008. Prior the that, it had a run in Chicago in 2001. However, it wasn’t until 2014, when the Williamstown Theatre Festival reworked the play into a one act structure, that it was finally deemed ready to come to Broadway.
According to Kander and Ebb, this role was written for Chita Rivera, whose previous credits include The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Nine, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Chicago. She plays Claire Zachannassian, the richest woman in the world who has been widowed on several occasions. The title refers to when she pays a visit to her humble hometown, and the entire town expects this to bring great prosperity to all. However, she has other plans in mind, and a sardonic and complex series of events ensue. In addition to Rivera, the role of Anton Schnell is played by Roger Rees (The Addams Family, Peter and the Starcatcher, Uncle Vanya). Other roles are played by Mary Beth Peil (Follies, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), George Abud, and Jason Danieley (Next to Normal, Curtains). The show is directed by John Doyle (The Color Purple, A Catered Affair, Company), who was behind the reworking at Williamstown that persuaded producers to bring to show to Broadway. Furthermore, it is choreographed by Tony nominee Graciela Daniele (Ragtime, Pal Joey, The Most Happy Fella, Zorba). The musical coordinator is John Monaco, and the associate conductor is Jesse Kissel.
Struggling at the Box Office
In the three weeks that the show has been running so far, it is having difficulty at the box office. In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending April 12, 2015, the show brought in only $224,289, which represents 29.41% of its gross potential. Over the course of the eight performances that week, the top ticket price was $225.00, but the average paid admission was only $43.19. Still, it managed to fill up only 72.0% of seats across the week. The previous two weeks were not much better, although the first partial week of five performances brought in 35.12% of the gross potential. The show will open on April 23, 2015, upon which the reviews will hopefully send many more ticket buyers to the box office.