Thursday night saw the opening of the last new show of the current Broadway season, Kander & Ebb's long-in-the-works The Visit.
The show was originally supposed to reach Broadway in 2001 as a starring vehicle for Angela Lansbury. Life happened. Lansbury dropped out. Chita Rivera stepped in. And 14 years later it finally debuts in New York!
The Visit reteams the iconic composing duo of Kander & Ebb with frequent collaborator Rivera and playwright Terrence McNally, both of whom worked on Kiss Of The Spider Woman with them.
Like many Kander & Ebb shows (Cabaret, Chicago), The Visit explores dark themes.
A rich old woman comes back to her hometown after being gone a lifetime to avenge her past!
That rich old woman is the rich in talent Rivera, who at 82 years old may be making her final appearance on Broadway. And it is quite the star turn for her!
We last saw her on the stage in The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, which was not a good vehicle for her. The Visit, after many revisions throughout the years and finally being (smartly) trimmed down to it's current state of performed without intermission, is custom-tailored for Rivera.
This is Chita at her best! There's even a little dancing!
This old broad's still got it!
The production is on the smaller scale of Broadway musicals, but it is beautifully done by director John Doyle.
The show is a lot like Chicago in that it lives in an alternate world. It's based on reality but the whole affair is rather surreal. We kept waiting for the end and a reveal that it was all a dream, which never happened.
In addition to Rivera, the real star of the show is the music.
Fred Ebb may no longer be with us but John Kander is - he was at the opening! - and these songs they have left behind are of the highest quality.
Oftentimes the later work of composers isn't as good as their younger output. Thankfully, The Visit is not that case! These songs are some of their best!
The cast is mostly great, though we wish they would have chosen a better vocalist as Rivera's main love interest.
And kudos to newcomer John Riddle, who has a bright future ahead of him - and not just because he was so pretty to look at. He was captivating!