After beginning performances October 16, the world premiere of The Visitor officially opened at the Public Theater November 4.
Based on the 2007 Tom McCarthy film, The Visitor follows Walter, a white college professor who, upon traveling to New York, encounters Tarek and Zainab, an immigrant couple from Syria and Senegal, respectively. Their interaction—and, eventually, the arrival of Tarek’s mother Mouna—brings to light the experiences and struggles of undocumented individuals seeking to make America a home.
The production features Ahmad Maksoud as Tarek, David Hyde Pierce as Walter, Alysha Deslorieux as Zainab, and Jacqueline Antaramian as Mouna alongside ensemble members Robert Ariza, Anthony Chan, Delius Doherty, C.K. Edwards, Will Erat, Brandon Espinoza, Sean Ewing, Marla Louissaint, Dimitri Joseph Moïse, Takafumi Nikaido, Paul Pontrelli, and Katie Terza. Rounding out the company are Albert Guerzon, Crystal Joy, and Sahar Milani as swings.
The Visitor, directed by Daniel Sullivan (assistant directed by Sanaz Ghajar), features choreography by Lorin Latarro, scenic design by David Zinn, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by Jessica Paz and Sun Hee Kil, video design by David Bengali and Hana S. Kim, hair, wigs, and make-up design by Matthew Armentrout with prop management by Claire M. Kavanah, fight direction by Thomas Schall, orchestrations by Jamshied Sharifi, music supervision by Meg Zervoulis, music direction by Rick Edinger, and music contracting by Tomoko Akaboshi. James Latus serves as production stage manager.
Originally scheduled for March 2020, the musical arrives after several delays including a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a week-long postponement for the cast and creatives to engage in active dialogues to establish community guidelines and ensure the show's themes of race and immigration were addressed with equity and responsibility.
During the time away from audiences, company members and Public Theater staff sought to explore the ramifications of centering a middle-aged white man in a story largely about Arab and Black immigrant experiences, as well as potential resources that would help the company in responsibly representing such communities. On October 20, it was announced that Ari’el Stachel, who was originally set to play Tarek after being involved the musical since development, would depart the production.