A Legend Celebrates: Age ain't nothing but a number to legendary Chita Rivera
Even a super trouper like Chita Rivera can fall prey to the super-bug that’s plaguing New York. But the nine-time Tony nominee, who had to miss several performances of The Mystery of Edwin Drood last week thanks to the flu, rallied for a special appearance at Birdland on Sunday night, where she was scheduled to make a big announcement.
With a legend like Chita, a “big announcement” could mean almost shy of her retirement: Fans had taken odds she was working to get The Visit mounted on Broadway. (She had appeared in an acclaimed workshop of the Kander and Ebb musical in 2011).
But actual news was at once bigger and more personal: Rivera is staging a giant Broadway concert this fall to celebrate her 80th birthday. At Birdland, Rivera chatted with Jim Caruso about “Chita: A Legendary Celebration,” a musical event on October 7 that will double as a benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fight AIDS, a cause near and dear to Rivera’s heart. “Since our earliest days in the 1980s Chita has been one of Broadway Cares’ great champions,” said BC/EFA director Tom Viola. “She’s a true and loyal friend.”
While the marquee for A Legendary Celebration hasn’t been finalized, we can expect appearances from some of Rivera’s legendary friends and co-stars. There’s also major talent behind the scenes, including playwright Terrence McNally and director-choreographer Graciela Daniele, who is collaborating with the star on an upcoming concert tour. “She’s my soul sister,” confesses Rivera of Daniele, who worked with her on the musical revue Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life.
Rivera, whose actual birthday is January 23, isn’t letting any moss gather under her still-spectacular gams. In addition to A Legendary Celebration, she’s still wowing audiences in Drood, and prepping both a new coffee-table book and documentary.
In fact she made it clear she ‘d only consent to a big birthday to-do if she could be a part of it: “I remember performing at Lena Horne’s birthday celebration. And Lena was just sitting there in a corner,” she recalled. “I’m not selfish—but I guess I am greedy. Because life is the only thing—and I want to be a part of it.”