John Doyle Will Direct Kander and Ebb's The Visit, Starring Chita Rivera, at Williamstown in 2014

By Adam Hetrick
November 21, 2013

The Williamstown Theatre Festival will produce the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical The Visit, starring two-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera, as part of its 60th anniversary season.

Plans for a Williamstown staging of the dark musical based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt's play about love and revenge were first revealed to Playbill.com in an October interview with Rivera. "I think we’re going to be doing it next season in Williamstown," Rivera said. "It’s, to me, very exciting, very unique, dark [and] passionate. It’s one of the last scores Freddie and John wrote [together]."

Presented July 31-Aug. 17, 2014, The Visit will be staged by Tony Award-winning director John Doyle (Sweeney Todd, Company). Tony nominee Graciela Daniele (Ragtime, The Rink, Drood) will choreograph. 

According to Williamstown, "Broadway legend Chita Rivera portrays Claire Zachanassian, 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. Tony Award-winning director John Doyle helms this sardonic, morally-complex musical--one of the last collaborations between the incomparable John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, The Scottsboro Boys). With a book by Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally and choreography by Graciela Daniele, The Visit asks: What can your heart afford?"

In recent years Williamstown has developed the new musicals Far From Heaven and The Bridges of Madison County, both of which set New York debuts within a year of their premieres there. Far From Heaven was staged at Playwrights Horizons Off-Broadway last spring, and The Bridges of Madison County will have its Broadway premiere in early 2014.

The Visit has music by John Kander, lyrics by the late Fred Ebb and a book by Terrence McNally. The creative team has long been hopeful that The Visit would get its Broadway due. It was first announced for a 2001 Broadway bow, but the production never materialized.

"We've been dying for New York audiences to have it," Tony-winning book writer McNally told Playbill.com in a 2011 interview about The Visit. "I think it's riper than ever to be heard." Kander added, "This piece has been a very gratifying experience. When we got it to the point that it was at, at the Signature, I think we all felt proud and satisfied. The fact that it was not coming to New York seemed strange and sad for a lot of reasons."

Kander & Ebb's The Visit Sings Again, With Chita Rivera and John Cullum in 2011: