Why I am producing The Visit on Broadway.

If you read the Arts & Leisure section of the NY Times in print then you may have caught a full page ad for the upcoming Broadway musical, The Visit.

And if you looked closely at those names above the title, you might have noticed that mine was among ‘em!

Yep, that’s right, I’m proud to be one of the producers on this brand new, daring musical by John Kander, the late Fred Ebb, and Terrence McNally and starring Broadway legend Chita Rivera and one of my favorite actors, Roger Rees.  (Quite a team, wouldn’t you say?)

The Visit is, like most Broadway musicals, an adaptation of another work.  But what makes The Visit even more unique is that it’s an adaptation of a play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt.

And what is it about you ask?

For those of you who don’t know the story, here’s the marketing copy direct from our website:

The legendary CHITA RIVERA is back on Broadway in her juiciest role yet. She’s Claire Zachanassian, the world’s wealthiest woman, who returns home to the man (ROGER REES) who captured her heart then shattered her dreams. What she does next shocks the town, and makes for the most thrilling new musical in years.

If you want to know the spoiler, you can read the summary of the story on the play’s Wikipedia page here.

If you don’t want to know it, well, let’s put it this way . . . it’s not the stuff that musicals are usually made of.

And that’s exactly why I’m producing it.

I remember seeing an interview with Kander and Ebb years ago that asked them where they got their ideas for their shows, since they had written milestone and groundbreaking musicals such as Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Scottsboro Boys and more.

Their answer was something like . . .

“When we find a story that at first glance doesn’t sound like a musical, that’s when we know we have to make it a musical.”

Kander and Ebb push the boundaries of the musical form.  They challenge themselves and they challenge audiences and the art form is better for it.

Add to their dynamic duo the envelope-pushing Director John Doyle, my favorite playwright on the planet, Terrence McNally (this will be my 3rd McNally in 12 months), and my friend and lead producer Tom Kirdahy, who has worked his tail off on It’s Only A Play, and, well, you can see why I’d sign on in a nanosecond.

Why sure, it may not be my most commercial venture (although no one thought Chicago would be commercial either).  And I’ll be letting my investors know exactly where it sits on the risk-o-meter.

But as a Producer and more importantly as a musical theater fan, it might be riskier to not produce shows like The Visit.

Why?

Because if we don’t get them produced, and if we don’t go to see them, the theaters might end up filled with jukebox musicals and second rate star driven revivals.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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Comments
  • Judy abrams says:

    It would be nice to mention your other producers Tom Smeades, Judith Ann Abrams and Hugh Hayes.

  • janis says:

    I love Ken. Just when I thought all hope was gone my hero steps out of the phone booth unscathed by Hollywood. Hallelujah!

  • Sam says:

    I saw the production in Williamstown and agree it’s going to be a tough sell (even with Chita, who was fantastic as always). That said, I enjoyed the show very much, but many in the audience just didn’t get it. I had very much the same reaction after seeing The Scottsboro Boys prior to its Broadway transfer – it’s a show that needs to be seen, but it will be an uphill battle to recoup. I wish you the best and applaud you for bringing this provicative show to Broadway!

  • Clair Sedore says:

    At 77, I was lucky enough to have seen Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne in The Visit at the Royal Alexandra in Toronto in the mid 1950s. It was a great play then, and I am sure it will make a great musical now. Like Spider Woman, Carrie, etc., it is not the happiest of stories but great for solo performances. I wish you well in your new endeavour. You have worked on a great many of my all time favourite musicals, i.e. Ragtime
    Break a leg!
    Clair Sedore
    world-theatres.com

  • Tom Hartman says:

    I saw this years ago at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre with Ms. Rivera and John Cullum. LOVED it. At that time, Ann Reinking was choreographer. One of the best scenes/numbers was “Yellow Shoes”. They made — with an ironic note to Ms. Reinking’s number in All That Jazz — everything old new again. Actually told the story through a dance number! I was delighted! Always thought that this show never got the audience it deserved and glad to see you give it another chance. Perhaps, now that Americans are a little more savvy about how we can be bought out by big money the show will resonate more deeply. It’s a solid book and has several “killer” roles. Break a leg!

  • Elisa Clayton says:

    Ouch Ken! Let’s try to be inclusive and embrace creativity even in the form of a Jukebox Musical! As long as it’s great storytelling, what’s the harm? It’s an abundant universe! There’s room for everything!

  • Ilene Argento says:

    I must admit that I haven’t heard of this show, but I’ve been hearing rumors of Chita’s Broadway return for quite some time. The creative team has me interested, and the hope for a non-cliche musical had me at ‘hello!’

    Best of luck, Ken! You’re on a roll, keep rollin’!

  • Dara says:

    Enjoyed this unique first TV ad for The Visit and the accompanying article. Certainly piqued my interest and I look forward to catching it on the air and seeing the subsequent ad campaign. Great work.

    http://deadline.com/2015/02/the-visit-tv-clip-1201370757/

  • Phyllis (Godspell) Buchalter says:

    I am happy to see that your are backing this production of The Visit. I was able to see it several years ago at the Signature Theatre in Arlington. Chita was marvelous and the production was haunting. I’m a great fan of Ms. Rivera’s going back to West Side Story. I agree this is not a typical commercial property, but you are accustomed to doing this as you did with “13.” Broadway musicals don’t all have to be “Mama Mia.” Good Luck with this venture.

  • Arnold Kuperstein says:

    You are producing THE VISIT because your heart and brain are at cross purposes. The heart says this is a Kender and Ebb musical, two composers who have given Broadway a couple of great shows and this is one of their shows that has not been produced on Broadway. Unfortunately the show is mediocre. I saw a production years ago at Signature Theatre in Arlington Virginia with Chita Rivera and George Hearn. Your brain must know that this show will be a financial bomb and all of your investors will lose their entire investment. I will give you a tip, the only worse show by Kander and Ebb is their OVER AND OVER or whatever name this bomb is currently being billed as. If you want to produce a daring new show try BETTY BLUE EYES, a delightful and brilliant new muscial that flopped in London.

  • Rick Reynolds says:

    I remember the movie with Ingrid Bergman. It’s a great story and you’ve got a great cast and creative team, so I know your show will soar!

  • gary j. says:

    A bold stroke, but I think if anyone can pull it off you’re the guy. Plus I marked this one to “recoup” for the last contest, so now you GOTTA come thru for me!!

  • Jim Miles says:

    This is the show that most makes me hope/wish I could make it to NYC this season. I hope it is a big huge hit, and thank you for helping to bring it and Chita Rivera to Broadway!

  • FrankieJ says:

    Good for you, Ken. This musical sounds exciting and, at least, isn’t one of the legion of craptacular mediocre-movies turned into musicals nor is it a pandering jukebox show (seriously, have any of them been better than good?) Broadway deserved a show like THE VISIT. I recently saw a bootleg of the film with Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Quinn and if the musical has half the bite and intrigue, it’s going to rock the Tonys! Keep taking chances and let’s stop producing the same-old, same-old.

  • lisbeth says:

    LOVE WHAT YOU SHARE HERE! going beyond “jukebox musicals,” and exercising true VISION..how do we keep growing and reaching more audience otherwise..without some “think diff” and be bold, yet strategic to drive revenue. and yes, was going to mention long time friend of my parents, judy abrams……..another visionary in my eye (yes, im the one that asked you about my dad’s photography..a true visionary)..SEE you have bought a fair amount of TV time too… and perhaps 360 marketing will add to the non traditional approach..music grabs you in tv spot! MUCH SUCCESS..hope to make ticket my birthday present to me! bravo!!!

  • An says:

    Rooting for you and your team!

  • Andrea Levitt says:

    I was so excited to see the preview today, Sat Mat March 28th, as I saw a production with Chita years ago at The Signature Theatre in DC, Loved it then and loved it again.
    Some comments:
    1- I thought the younger versions of Aton and Claire were over done. in many scenes I thought they served no purpose and were actually in the way of the drama. The scene with Claire and her younger self was quite beautiful however.
    2-The audience wants to clap more but many times a song or dialogue doesn’t allow that.
    3-Yellow shoes number needs more razz-ma-tazz like the Signature production where it stopped the show.
    Hope this show is a big hit. Hard subject but hope word of mouth will do it. A beautiful, creative musical with gorgeous music and a fabulous cast!

  • Shirley Simpson says:

    I was in New York 2 weeks ago and could not pass up a chance to see the brilliant and legendary Chita Rivera on stage in a brilliant and legendary Kander and Ebb musical. It was wonderful!!!! Everything, cast, set, lighting, staging…absoutely stellar! The music is still humming in my head, something only GREAT musicals will do (I cannot name the endless whoa-Tony-“hit” Broadway musicals I have seen and I couldn’t give you a melody or single lyric from any of the songs in them. I am so sorry this show has closed, it deserve to be seen. It was a rare shining example of classic musical theatre: no pyrotechnics, no computer-generate special effects, a little “kinky” plot but no plunging off into the abyss, just brilliant acting and a dazzling production. I am going up again to NYC over the 4th of July and was seriously considering seeing it again. Alas, no more chances. Thank you for the memory. Shirley

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