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Chita Rivera Is 84 And Still Singing And Dancing

Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

In this Aug. 2, 2015 file photo, Chita Rivera performs during the "Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin' to Do" segment of the PBS 2015 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

You cannot talk about musical theatre in America without talking about Chita Rivera. She is one of the great icons of musical theatre, and she has worked with all the other great icons.

And at 84, she continues to work.

Ms. Rivera will be at the Smith Center this Sunday, April 30, with a largely unscripted show with performer and musician Seth Rudetsky. I say largely unscripted because she will, of course, be singing some of the most iconic songs in musical theatre history.


On Jerome Robbins:

Jerome Robbins was a genius. I learned focus. I learned how to act. I think we all learned how to understand words as opposed to stories through dance. We just listened and obeyed. He did exactly what he told us to do.

On Bob Fosse:

Bob Fosse had a style all his own. That’s what’s so wonderful about that time… great, great choreographer. It was like they had their own language through their style. Bob was a sweet, quiet. He loved the ladies. He choreographed brilliantly for both genders, but particularly for the ladies.

On being a single mom:

It’s difficult, but there are many very wonderful ways. You have help, which I did. I was lucky to have wonderful people give me a hand. I had producers who understood. In the earlier part of Lisa’s life, she would come with me to England or wherever it was I went to do a show.

On racism during her career:

I felt very little. If something was said or done, it was done behind closed doors. I felt nothing. I went to auditions. I played Italians, French, and of course, Latin and all different races. I was pretty lucky. Others might have had some problems.

On working and age:

“It’s a pity that so many people find age such a fascinating subject and they put such limitations on people because of age.

I think age is a joke that somebody has put on us, because if there are things you want to do, if take care of yourself, and you have passion about your work and about your life and about living and about other people and sharing your life with other people. Age has nothing to do with anything.”

On the show:

Seth Rudetsky is an extraordinary host. He knows just about everything there is to know about theatre up today. He really respects and cares for the actor. I would say that this would be conversations and performances… so it’s an insight for the audience to the performer.

On a time when she won’t work:

I try to live in the moment. If there is more to say, and I’m capable and able to say it, and the right person to say it, I would very much like to do so. 



Chita Rivera

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)