'The Visitor,' delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, opens at The Public Theater

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
'The Visitor,' delayed by the pandemic, opens at The Public Theater
The cast of a musical based on the 2007 film "The Visitor" were ready to go before the shutdown at The Public Theater. Sandy Kenyon has more on how they are finally raising the curtain.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As New York City's entertainment world springs back to life and Broadway theaters reopen, so do those Off-Broadway -- and this has allowed shows in the planning stages before the pandemic to finally raise their curtains.

The cast of a new musical based on the 2007 film "The Visitor" were ready to go before the shutdown at The Public Theater, so I thought this was a fine choice for my first foray back downtown to see a show.

The Public Theater is where I first interviewed its founder at the very beginning of my career more than 40 years ago, and "The Visitor" is playing in the same theater where I first experienced the magic of "Hamilton."

This is why I felt a certain sense of history stepping on stage with Ahmad Maksoud and Alysha Deslorieux, who play the couple at the heart of this story.

ALSO READ | 'Belfast' review: Kenneth Branagh drama is one of the year's best

"Belfast" takes a chapter from the history books to tell the story of the fight between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

Deslorieux called it very emotional stepping onstage for the first time there.

"It was a like a brand new day," she said.

Both actors are pondering changes to the text of "The Visitor" made necessary by all that has happened in the world since 2020.

"We've all gone through this moment together," Ahmad said. "Not just the pandemic, but also our experience."

Deslorieux agreed.

"Even though there are some of us who have sort of felt we're living inside of that world already, our purpose and our journey is to help people understand," she said. "To bring them into our world and show them in a way that they can understand and connect to without feeling judged."

Maksoud plays Tarek, an undocumented immigrant who is detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents due to a misunderstanding.

His girlfriend, played by Deslorieux, joins forces with his mother, played by Jacqueline Antaramian, to try and get him out with the help of a college professor who is mourning the loss of his wife.

"(The show) offers that glimpse into a white man's world being introduced to people he would not necessarily know," Antaramian said.

"The Visitor" is based on the 2007 movie of the same name, which earned an Oscar nomination for Richard Jenkins.

This time, David Hyde Pierce plays the role of the professor who returns to his Greenwich Village apartment after a lengthy absence got find strangers -- undocumented immigrants -- living there.

"I think what the show is doing now is exactly reflecting what the culture is doing now," he said. "Which is imperfectly coming to grips with the continuing evolution of who we are."

ALSO READ | 'Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli' tells 'epic story' of making 'The Godfather'

"Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli" takes its name from one of the most famous lines in "The Godfather," ad libbed by Richard Castellano after a murder.

The original script was updated from the movie, which was, after all, made more than 14 years ago.

The show was further rewritten after the death of George Floyd, with the help of its cast members.

"The Visitor" runs through December 5, and great seats are still available.

CLICK HERE for tickets and additional information.


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