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Broadway history buffs eager to see the legendary Chita Rivera in what could well be the 82-year-old stage star’s final leading role in a musical will need to hurry. Producers on Monday announced that the closing performance of The Visit will be Sunday June 14.
The show was nominated for five Tony Awards, including best musical and lead actress for Rivera. It had been hanging on until the annual honors ceremony Sunday night despite struggling at the box office since the start of previews. While some pundits believed Rivera’s beloved status in the industry gave her a shot at the extremely competitive lead actress prize, the production failed to secure a win in any category.
The Visit officially opened on April 23 at the Lyceum Theatre to mildly positive reviews overall, but with widespread raves for the indefatigable Rivera, whose first Broadway appearance dates back to 1951. However, despite an abundance of good will in the theater community toward the star, the celebrated composing team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, and book writer Terrence McNally, box office failed to take off.
Read more ‘The Visit’: Theater Review
The show grossed a little over $224,000 in its best week and will close with cumulative receipts just north of $2 million, representing a total loss of the producing team’s investment.
However, while audience turnout has been modest, the musical has drawn fervent admiration from many hardcore theater fans, causing producers to be optimistic about its future life.
“The Visit has created a sensation on Broadway and generated interest in productions around the world,” said lead producer Tom Kirdahy, speaking on behalf of a team that includes Edgar Bronfman Jr. “It has been our great privilege to present the legendary Chita Rivera in the final Kander and Ebb musical. This has been one for the history books.”
The production was a labor of love for many involved, Rivera most of all, given her long association with the musicals of Kander and Ebb. Her friendship with the composers encompassed starring roles in the original productions of their shows Chicago, The Rink and Kiss of the Spider-Woman.
Based on the 1956 tragicomic play by Friedrich Durrenmatt, The Visit is a dark satire about the wealthiest woman in the world, who returns to her hometown, offering the impoverished community a generous bailout if they will kill the man who wronged her as a girl.
The show was first produced in Chicago in 2001 and had a bumpy 14-year road to Broadway, with several false starts. However, Rivera has remained committed to the production for the duration.
The Visit is directed on Broadway by John Doyle and also stars Tom Nelis (who stepped in for original co-star Roger Rees due to the latter’s illness), Jason Danieley, David Garrison and Mary Beth Peil.
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