You can’t keep Chita Rivera down for long.
The singer-actress had originally been slated to debut her new cabaret show, “An Evening of My Favorite Songs,” at New York’s Café Carlyle in January, but a pelvic stress fracture required her to postpone her performances until April.
Of course, Rivera, 83, isn’t one of Broadway’s most venerable icons for nothing. If her dazzling performance at “Broadway Backwards” on March 21 is any indication, the two-time Tony Award winner will be back with the same vigor and vim that’s made her a star for over 60 years when she takes the Carlyle stage April 19.
“An Evening of My Favorite Songs,” she said, is very much a “trip down memory lane” through her beloved turns in the original casts of “West Side Story,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Chicago” and, most recently, “The Visit.” With such a wealth of material to draw from, Rivera hopes the intimate space will cast many of the best-known songs from those musicals in a new and thrilling light.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the greatest in the business. It’s wonderful to go back and revisit these pieces, and hopefully we’ll bring some nice memories back to the audience,” she told The Huffington Post.
It’s been almost a year since Rivera was last seen on Broadway in “The Visit,” John Kander and Fred Ebb’s dark, challenging musical that faced its share of struggles during its 15-year journey to the Great White Way. Rivera’s co-star, Roger Rees, withdrew from the production because of an illness just weeks before it closed in June 2015; he died July 10.
Still, most reviews of “The Visit” offered praise for Rivera, who starred as a wealthy widower seeking deadly revenge on a former lover who betrayed her. She remains hopeful that she’ll be a part of a future incarnation of the musical, possibly in Europe.
“It’s had its hard time, but what director John Doyle and the cast did with that show was just so wonderful. It’s an amazing story and, very much, the subject of today,” she said. “It’s very European. They don’t put dimples in cheeks and chins; they just tell it like it is. I like stirring up people’s feelings like that.”
As she looks to the future, Rivera said she only hopes to “pick my feet up, put them down, and wake up every morning breathing and laughing.” She’d also love to work with “Hamilton” creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who she called “a great theater person and a very bright man.”
There are, of course, other things on her mind, too. Pointing to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, she said, “I would like very much for this world to attempt to straighten itself out a little bit. There are many more important things to think about than my career at this point. There are too many things to pray for, and that’s a big one.”
As to what keeps her motivated after 60 years in show business, Rivera said, “Everything – absolutely everything. Every day is a new day – it’s the honest-to-God truth. Every audience is a different audience. It’s a tremendous responsibility, and an honor, to tell your stories.”
Chita Rivera will perform “An Evening of My Favorite Songs” from April 19 through April 30 at New York’s Café Carlyle. Head here for more information.
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