The Visit BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Thom Kaine
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • NBC

  • HR

  • AP

Opening Night:
April 23, 2015
Closing:
June 14, 2015

Theater: Lyceum Theatre / 149 West 45th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

Claire Zachanassian is an often-widowed millionairess who pays a visit to her hardship-stricken birthplace. The locals hope she’ll bring them a new lease on life, but little do they know her offer to revitalize the town comes at a dreadful price.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Visit

    Chita Rivera Stars in Kander and Ebb’s ‘The Visit’

    Ben Brantley

    April 23, 2015: When Chita Rivera steps solemnly to the edge of the stage in the opening scene of “The Visit,” she sweeps the audience with a gaze that could freeze over hell. Yet a quickening warmth spreads through the Lyceum Theater, where this macabre, long-gestating Kander and Ebb musical opened on Thursday night. The woman who stands so regally before us may appear as glacial as Siberia. But longtime theatergoers know that beneath the frost, this ice queen is hot stuff. Based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s fabular 1956 drama of greed and vengeance, “The Visit” arrives with lots of baggage. That includes the ominous black valises that figure prominently in the show’s set and the many obstacles and alterations this musical has experienced on a 13-year-long journey to Broadway. But it’s the history that the 82-year-old Ms. Rivera carries and the expertise with which she deploys it that keep the chill off this elegant dirge of a production, directed by John Doyle. Portraying a woman with a storied past, she brings with her the legacy of more than six decades as a Broadway musical star. That career has had its spectacular peaks (the creation of classic roles in the original “West Side Story” and “Chicago”) and valleys (the doomed “Merlin”). If “The Visit,” which also stars Roger Rees and features a tartly didactic book by Terrence McNally, occupies a sort of landscaped plateau in this terrain, its leading lady continues to tower. “I’m unkillable,” Ms. Rivera’s character says, and a line uttered with throwaway bravado stops the show.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF The Visit

    'The Visit' Theater review

    David Cote

    April 23, 2015: Claire Zachanassian (Rivera) fled her dreary European town a disgraced, ruined girl, and she returns to Brachen a vengeful billionairess, planning to exact revenge on Anton Schell (Rees), the man who wooed and wronged her. When the old lovers reunite, Schell learns that Claire has a prosthetic leg and an ivory hand. “My plane crashed in Tierra del Fuego,” she explains. “I was the only one who crawled out of the wreckage. I’m unkillable.” Similarly nine-lived is "The Visit," John Kander and the late Fred Ebb’s final collaboration, which has been kicking around regional theaters in various tinkerings since 2001. The version now on Broadway is the same I caught last summer at Williamstown Theatre Festival, and it remains fascinating and alluring, if finally repetitive and frustrating. The source material is Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 play—probably the first mistake. As a piece of postwar absurdism, "The Visit" could make for an interesting revival, but studded with Kander & Ebb’s Weill-and-vamp song stylings (however sleek and insinuating), it becomes a musical where the numbers retard the forward motion, which is, anyway, linear and predicable: Claire will have her revenge, and corruptible society will help her.

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  • NBC NEW YORK REVIEW OF The Visit

    Chita Rivera Pays an Eerie "Visit" to Broadway

    Robert Kahn

    April 23, 2015: Never trust a woman who travels with her own coffin. That's one big takeaway from “The Visit,” the thought-provoking and—there’s no other word for the experience—bizarre musical starring Chita Rivera as the richest woman in the world. It’s just opened at The Lyceum Theatre. Rivera’s vital performance as Claire Zacahanassian, a woman who has married both well and often, is just one reason “The Visit” is notable, here at the end of a crowded theater season The two-dozen songs briskly presented in a single 100-minute act represent the final collaboration between John Kander and Fred Ebb, the legendary duo behind “Cabaret.” The story, based on a 1950s German play about greed and vengeance, is by Terrence McNally. And “The Visit” is directed by John Doyle, the noted Sondheim interpreter. The people of Brachen, Switzerland, are destitute but have cause for optimism when the mayor gets a telegram from wealthy Claire, who announces she’s coming home to the village where she was born. Claire arrives with dozens of bags in tow, a creepy butler, and two even creepier eunuchs … in white face makeup, with bowler hats. Also, she’s brought that coffin.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF The Visit

    Broadway legend Chita Rivera reunites with the equally celebrated team behind some of her signature shows in this final collaboration between John Kander and Fred Ebb

    David Rooney

    April 23, 2015: A second-tier Kander and Ebb score is better than a lot of musical craftsmen's best, which makes "The Visit" a welcome curiosity, even it's sure to be a commercial challenge. Finally reaching Broadway after almost 15 years of false starts, the show arrives in a bewitchingly designed production from director John Doyle that magnifies its alluring qualities and masks some of its imperfections. It's an arresting vehicle for the indomitable Chita Rivera, who has stuck with the project throughout its troubled history, and she remains a uniquely steely stage presence at 82 — graceful, dignified and commanding. The opportunity to see an adored Broadway legend in what may be her swan-song leading role will be the draw for the hardcore musical faithful; likewise the chance to savor the final collaboration between composer John Kander and his late lyricist partner Fred Ebb, who died in 2004. It's unsurprising that American musical theater's most Brechtian double-act was drawn down this dour road of revenge to explore the ravaged soul of humanity. But there's no getting around the insubstantiality and rather arch misanthropy of the material, adapted by Terrence McNally from Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt's 1956 tragicomedy.

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS REVIEW OF The Visit

    'The Visit' on Broadway Is Chillingly Good

    Mark Kennedy

    April 23, 2015: Trust a John Kander-Fred Ebb musical to make the sunny color of vitality and youth positively menacing. In the dark, thrilling show, "The Visit," shoes, money and even tennis rackets turn yellow — a bad sign for one character whose life hangs in the balance. In the works since 2001, "The Visit" opened Thursday at the Lyceum Theatre and is one of the last to open on Broadway this season. It seems like the adults have finally shown up. The show stars Chita Rivera and Roger Rees, has a script by Terrence McNally, sets by Scott Pask, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward and is directed by John Doyle. All have Tonys and it shows. The story, based on a 1956 Friedrich Durrenmatt play, centers on a billionaire, played by Rivera, who pays a visit to her hardship-stricken European birthplace. "I married very often and I widowed very well," she sings. She has come for revenge. The billionaire offers the townsfolk a chance to be wealthy beyond their dreams if they agree to make her long-lost lover Anton suffer. "There's going to be a happy ending," the townspeople sing. Don't count on it for everyone. Soon, people start showing up with new shoes, expensive yellow ones. Anton — played sublimely by an anguished Rees — knows his friends and colleagues are planning for a windfall.

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