ARLINGTON, Va. — The macabre and the misty-eyed vie uneasily for supremacy in “The Visit,” a musical adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 tragicomedy about vengeance and venality, at the Signature Theater here.
Chita Rivera, celebrated for her long career as a Broadway dancer-actress, plays Claire Zachanassian, the much-married megamillionairess who returns to her hometown with more on her mind than happy reunions. Claire, you may recall, has lost at least an arm and a leg — literally — as she has piled up husbands and oil wells in the course of a long, profitable life. That is a pity, given Ms. Rivera’s ability to rivet the eye with the flare of a calf muscle, even after more than a half-century onstage. As Claire, she shimmies and slinks glamorously, but only hitches up her long skirts and lets loose for a few lively moments in the second act.