Song & Stage

Broadway Legend Chita Rivera Performs at Guild Hall on July 23

Accomplished actress, singer and dancer, Chita Rivera will be performing a special solo concert at Guild Hall in East Hampton, recreating signature numbers from her career in productions such as West Side Story; Sweet Charity; Chicago; Kiss of the Spider Woman; Bye, Bye, Birdie; The Rink and The Visit, in addition to many other musical surprises this Saturday evening. Dan’s Papers had the opportunity to speak with the Tony Award winning star, and hear all about her love for Broadway, the great people she has worked with in her legendary career, and what she’s looking forward to at Guild Hall.

You made your debut at 17 as a principal dancer in “Call Me Madam,” and then played Anita in the Broadway premiere of “West Side Story.” What do you love the most about being such a legendary part of Broadway and the arts?
I’m so proud of our theater. I love the excitement, and really enjoy storytelling. It’s everything. I feel very fortunate to have worked with all the great talents that I have.

You’ve been in so many classic musicals. What numbers have you particularly enjoyed?
I’ve enjoyed all of them. West Side Story. Chicago. “All that Jazz/Nowadays.” I would say all of them, even ones that may have not been hits.

What have been some unforgettable moments in your career?
Oh, there’s been so many. I would say opening night of West Side Story and Chicago, and just being on stage with such greats as Liza Minnelli and Gwen Verdon.

Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon
Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon, Photo: Martha Swope

In 2009 you released your first solo studio CD titled “And Now I Swing,” which displays your passion for jazz and classic theater songs. Can you tell us more about your love for jazz and the recording of this album?
Jazz has always been part of my life. Rosemary Clooney. Mel Tormé. Mabel Mercer. My album is not a pure jazz album by any means, but it was so much fun. Michael Croieter put the album together, and it’s a departure from Broadway tunes. It was thrilling to have that experience.

You recently starred in the Broadway production of “The Visit.” What did you enjoy the most about this production?
The entire play. The whole conception. Working with Roger Rees, and the story itself. It’s a great European love story based on the book by Terrence McNally that I believe American theater can receive a great education from. It’s very different from the American musicals, and it was also great working with director John Doyle and choreographer Graciela Daniele. She’s a great choreographer.

What advice would you give to anyone who dreams of pursuing a career in musical theater?
Know what you want to do. Give it 500%. Never give it up, and make sure you respect yourself and others.

Kiss of the Spider Woman
Photo: Catherine Ashmore

What are you most looking forward to at the Guild Hall show?
I love the area. It’s very beautiful, and filled with theater people. I can’t wait to do my show for them. It’s always an honor to entertain.

Chita Rivera performs at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton on Saturday, July 23 at 8 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets visit guildhall.org or call 631-324-0806.

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