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THE VISIT, May 24, 2008: Best New Musical of the Season!

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miss pennywise
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STUNNING! MAGNIFICENT! ASTONISHING! Really.

My dear friend Without A Trace and I spent Saturday in Arlington, Virginia, seeing the matinee performance of The Happy Time and then The Visit in the evening. I know that he will post a real review of this (and, I hope, The Happy Time, as well), so here are just a few thoughts.

I have been an admirer of Chita Rivera's since I was a little girl, playing my parents' LP of Bye, Bye Birdie over and over again. (No, I never saw the original. I'm old, but not that old.) I've seen her on Broadway several times over the years and have always enjoyed her singing and dancing (of course) immensely. Tonight I realized what an outstanding dramatic actress she is. Her performance in The Visit is positively captivating. You really cannot take your eyes off her when she's anywhere on that stage.

The theatre world holds her in such high esteem that we forgave and made excuses for her with The Dancer's Life. But The Visit reminds us of why Chita Rivera has remained a leading force in American musical theatre for over 50 years: watching her is like having an audience with the queen. She is regal and commanding...without even uttering a word. One look from her is enough to paralyze you. Oh, and she's incredibly funny, too!

Not that The Visit is a knee-slapping comedy. Hilarious moments abound, but this is serious stuff. Ms. Rivera is perfection, which is saying a lot given the fact that the rest of the cast--most notably George Hearn--is nothing short of superb. Mr. Hearn is in great voice; in fact, I think he is better than ever...a walking (and talking and singing and dancing) advertisement for the benefits of aging. In The Visit, Mr. Hearn quietly projects every aspect of the human condition, gliding masterfully from good to evil and back again. He and Ms. Rivera are exquisitely matched.

The entire cast is sensational. Mark Jacoby, James Harms, Michael Hayward-Jones and Jeremy Webb are stand-outs for me--again, quite remarkable given the strength of all in the ensemble...and how deliciously creepy they are.

It is important, however, to mention that I am not only enamored of the actors and their performances. The production itself is mesmerizing. It's staged beautifully. Frank Galati can just forget about The Pirate Queen because nobody is going to care about that after this. Terrance McNally's book is so well-written, and the production so well-paced that each act is over before you know it, and much sooner that you want it to be. Act II is designed to play like opera, one complete gesture from start to finish. And yet possesses elements of vaudeville, soap opera, allegory and silent films.

Finally, the score. I can't believe I've never heard it before. So lush, so powerful. It actually had me thinking that John Kander and Fred Ebb are underrated!

The Signature deserves much credit for reimagining a work that deserves to be--and needs to be--seen. Maybe the time wasn't right when The Visit was first mounted. Given its political perspective and the current state of the world, I'd say its time is now.









"Be on your guard! Jerks on the loose!"

http://www.roches.com/television/ss83kod.html

**********

"If any relationship involves a flow chart, get out of it...FAST!"

~ Best12Bars
Updated On: 5/25/08 at 05:01 AM
GetUp&LiveIt
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UNBELIEVABLE! I attended last evening's performance of The Visit as well Miss Pennywise. I echo everything you said. It was one of the most thrilling evenings I have had in the theatre ever. And yes "Signature Theatre is No Longer a Theatre... It's a Palace." Who said this? So true. The work being done at Signature Theatre is mind boggling. How in the world can that 300 seat theatre, at least that's what I think it is, afford to do this kind of work? A cast of over 20 led by Chita Rivera & George Heard, a full orchestra, with a world class team including Anne Reinking, Frank Galati, Howell Binkley, Derek McLane, Susan Hilferty. Unreal. There is nothing like this being done in New York. I'll try to post a more in depth and thoughtful review later. Right now all I can say is "WOW"
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miss pennywise
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Who said, "Signature Theatre is No Longer a Theatre... It's a Palace"?

That would be me. And I wasn't talking about the physical structure...I was referring to Queen Chita of Rivera holding court. re: THE VISIT May 24, 2008 or 'The Signature Theatre is No Longer a Theatre (Although the new theatre space IS fabulous.)
"Be on your guard! Jerks on the loose!"

http://www.roches.com/television/ss83kod.html

**********

"If any relationship involves a flow chart, get out of it...FAST!"

~ Best12Bars
Updated On: 5/25/08 at 01:42 PM
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BigFatBlonde
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Oh Miss Pennywise, I always knew you had good taste!

I saw it in Chicago in 2001 and was BLOWN away. Being a fan of the original play I was curious to see how they could make it "sing."

Well K&E didn't disappoint. The score is rich, tuneful, haunting.. and sometimes to-the-bone chilling. For my money it is as good or better than any of their other works.


What great ones do the less will prattle of
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KChenowethfan
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Glad you liked it. Even at the first preview, it was definitely something special.
"Why do you care what people might say? Why try to fit into their design?" (Side Show)
Updated On: 5/25/08 at 02:54 PM
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miss pennywise
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I'm so glad I am in such good company with BFB and KCF!

I am DEFINITELY going to see it again. (Probably June 7.)

Brilliant from start to finish.
"Be on your guard! Jerks on the loose!"

http://www.roches.com/television/ss83kod.html

**********

"If any relationship involves a flow chart, get out of it...FAST!"

~ Best12Bars
Ed_Mottershead
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Kander and Ebb are underrated????? WHO thinks the guys who gave us Cabaret and Chicago are underrated? They're two of the greatest American musicals ever and no one has ever underrated those glorious scores.
BroadwayEd
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miss pennywise
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Ed, you just don't understand what I'm saying. I'm being ironic.
"Be on your guard! Jerks on the loose!"

http://www.roches.com/television/ss83kod.html

**********

"If any relationship involves a flow chart, get out of it...FAST!"

~ Best12Bars
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CurtainPullDowner
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"we forgave and made excuses for her with THE DANCER'S LIFE"
Huh?

I saw that show twice and was moved to tears as Chita, her dancers and the audience celebrated her career, there were no excuses or forgiveness necessary!

I am looking forward to seeing THE VISIT next week, it seems all the buzz is good so far.
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ljay889
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This HAS to transfer. Chita back in an acting role on Broadway will be amazing. and more K&E on Broadway will be wonderful. Shame CURTAINS has to close. Imagine having CHICAGO, CURTAINS, and THE VISIT all running together.
Updated On: 5/25/08 at 03:42 PM
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matty159
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miss pennywise, I will be there for the matinee on the 7th. I love that pretty much everything I am hearing is a straight-up rave. Please let these next two weeks fly by!
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WiCkEDrOcKS
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I have a feeling this is going to open next season.


And win a hell of a lot of Tonys.
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
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musicalmaster703
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Will see it at the end of the month.
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adamgreer
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Is there anyone who has seen it in both places yet? I'm curious to know how much has changed. As I recall, the Chicago production didn't get great notices, so they've obviously done a lot of work, if it's getting this kind of reception now.
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I posted this in another thread, but this is a blog by someone who saw The Visit both in Chicago and at Signature. He doesn't go into the changes between the two productions, but also clearly seems to like what he sees at Signature.

http://playingmysong.livejournal.com/11607.html
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.
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I wish I could see this - it sounds absolutely phenomenal. I pray that it transfers!
"The nice thing about the rain is that it always stops... eventually."

- Eeyore
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I'm having this fantasy of THE VISIT transferring. AND the reworked BOUNCE playing the Public and transferring before the Tony deadline next year.

That would be absolutely amazing. Imagine having two of the Best Musical nominees being Sondheim and K&E musicals. Would be a nice change from these pop/rock/hip-hop musical we have been inundated with lately.
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I really hope this transfers. I want to see it so badly and Chita Rivera and George Hearn? Yes, please.
"I mean, sitting side by side with another man watching Patti LuPone play Rose in GYPSY on Broadway is essentially the equivalent of having hardcore sex." -Wanna Be A Foster. "Say 'Goody.' Say 'Bubbi.'" ... "That's it. Exactly as if it were 'Goody.' Now I know you're gonna sing 'Goody' this time, but nevertheless..."