George Hearn to Star w/ Rivera in THE VISIT at Signature

eric schaeffer, artistic director of Signature Theatre, announced today that two-time Tony winner George Hearn will join another two-time Tony winner Chita Rivera for Kander & Ebb's musical The Visit - a highlight of Signature Theatre's national Kander & Ebb Celebration in the spring of 2008. With Signature's status as one of America's leading forces in innovative musical theater, its pairing of Rivera and Hearn in The Visit marks the first time that a regional Washington, DC area theater has ever cast two double-Tony winners in one production.

In addition to The Visit, the four-month Kander & Ebb festival from March - June 2008 will feature the Tony- Award winning musical Kiss of the Spider Woman, the rarely produced work The Happy Time, and the Tony-nominated performer Karen Akers in her critically-acclaimed new cabaret show First You Dream: The Songs of Kander & Ebb. Best known for their musicals Cabaret and Chicago, Kander and Ebb were the longest-running songwriting partnership in Broadway musical history, working together from 1965 until Ebb's death in 2004. Subscriptions are still available to the Kander & Ebb Celebration by calling Signature Theatre's Box Office at 703-820-9771 or by visiting www.signature-theatre.org.

The Visit is the story of a wealthy and vengeful old woman, Claire Zachanassian, and her desire for both truth and blood. Zachanassian had been driven from her hometown in disgrace when she was 17, betrayed by her lover. Several decades and seven husbands later, she has become the richest woman in the world, yet her hometown has fallen on hard times. When Zachanassian returns with an offer to save the town, salvation comes with an outrageous price tag. Directed by Frank Galati, and choreographed by Ann Reinking, this new musical has a book by Terrence McNally, based on one of the great plays of the 20th century, The Visit by Friedrich Drrenmatt. It will be performed in Signature's MAX Theatre, a new space recently described by The New York Times as "recall[ing] the beloved Cottesloe at the National Theater in London." Performances are May 13 - June 22, 2008 with some dates already sold out. The Visit had its world premiere in 2001 at the Chicago's Goodman Theatre and the creative team remains intact for the Signature Theatre production.

George Hearn is a Tony Award-winning American actor and singer, primarily in Broadway musical theater, and particularly known for his portrayal of the title character of the Sondheim musical, Sweeney Todd. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Hearn studied philosophy at Southwestern University before he embarked on a career in the theater, training for the stage with legendary actress turned acting coach Irene Dailey.

Most of Hearn's early performances were in traditional productions at the New York Shakespeare Festival and Lincoln Center where he first garnered notice as John Dickinson in the acclaimed 1969 musical 1776, and as Liv Ullmann's leading man in the musical version of I Remember Mama (1979). Later that year he replaced Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd opposite Dorothy Loudon. Hearn and the show's original star, Angela Lansbury, later headed the show's touring company, then reprised their roles for a Showtime production of the musical, which won him an Emmy Award for his portrayal.

Other notable Broadway credits include A Time for Singing, The Changing Room, Hamlet, A Doll's Life, La Cage aux Folles, Meet Me in St. Louis, Sunset Boulevard, The Diary of Anne Frank, Putting It Together, and Wicked.

Hearn's Tony Award nominations and wins are 1980 Best Featured Actor in a Play (Watch on the Rhine, nominee); 1983 Best Actor in a Musical (A Doll's Life, nominee); 1984 Best Actor in a Musical (La Cage aux Folles, winner); 1995 Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Sunset Boulevard, winner); and 2000 Best Actor in a Musical (Putting It Together, nominee).

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