By PAM HARBAUGH
The sensational Chita Rivera and the marvelous George Hearn” starred in the Kander and Ebb musical “The Visit” in 2008 at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. There’s a link below to a YouTube video of Ms. Rivera and Mr. Hearn speaking about “The Visit.”
The show, directed by Frank Galati and choreographed by Ann Reinking, was thrilling and Brechtian in style. In her portrayal of the billionairess set on revenge, Chita Rivera was that alluring mix of fragile and dangerous. George Hearn found relentless romance and compassion in the soul of the man who stole her youth.
There was much chatter about this show finding a Broadway footing. Many members of the American Theatre Critics Association — in nearby Washington, D.C. for their annual conference — found the show exceptionally well produced and directed. And, many were astounded to discover it was having such a hard time getting to Broadway.
About four years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Ms. Rivera for a story to stir up interest in “A Night With …” appearance at the King Center. I mentioned to her having seen “The Visit” and you could hear the excitement in her voice. She, too, wondered why it was taking so doggoned long for such a good show to hit the Great White Way.
By the way: The Kander and Ebb musical has book by Terrence McNally. It is based on the 1956 tragicomedy, “Der Besuch der alten Dame,” by Swiss author/playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt. Interestingly, the Kander, Ebb and McNally musical was intended originally for Angela Lansbury to open in March 2001. However, Ms. Lansbury left the project when her husband became critically ill and subsequently died. Ms. Rivera took over and the show first opened at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. It wasn’t until 2008 before the Signature Theatre picked it up. But it’s not been until this year that it looks like Broadway will finally see this extraordinary production.
Here’s a link to the YouTube video with Ms. Rivera and Mr. Hearn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7Moay1eqJA
And, if you want to see some photos of the produced as it appeared at the Signature, visit this webpage: http://www.playbill.com/news/article/photo-call-chita-rivera-and-george-hearn-pay-d.c.-a-visit-150437
“The Visit” begins previews March 26 at the Lyceum Theatre. It will open April 23. To get tickets, go to Telecharge.com.