Broadway legend Chita Rivera makes triumphant return in 'The Visit'

Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:45am EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly 60 years after she won fame in "West Side Story," actress, dancer and singer Chita Rivera is back on Broadway as a very wealthy widow seeking revenge in "The Visit."

The one-act musical about greed, love and retribution opened on Thursday night at the Lyceum Theater, following its debut in Chicago in 2001 and a run last summer at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts.

It is based on the 1956 play by Swiss author and dramatist Friedrich Durrenmatt.

Two-time Tony winner Rivera, 82, starred in both productions and reprises the role of Claire Zachanassian, the world's richest woman, who married often and widowed well.

"The show is more literary piece than conventional musical. But it has a dark, sinister beauty - and who could resist a visit from Chita?" said the trade magazine Variety. "If ever a star deserved her moment of triumph, it's this 82-year-old belle dame."

The Wall Street Journal said the long journey of the show, which was set to open on Broadway more than a decade ago, was worth the wait.

"'The Visit is a cynical tragicomedy whose score is as gorgeous as its heart is hard," the newspaper added.

Claire returns to her hometown in an unnamed European country. It has fallen on hard times and its citizens are hoping she will use her wealth to help. She agrees but only if they kill her former lover Anton Schell, played by actor Roger Rees ("The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby"), who abandoned her to marry a shopkeeper's daughter.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama laughs with entertainer Chita Rivera as he presents her with the Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, August 12, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed