2011

Chita Rivera

Cabaret Festival. Dunstan Playhouse – 17 to 19 Jun

Chita Rivera’s show is a wonderful trip down memory lane, for her, and most of the audience. Rivera feels truly blessed to still be performing at the ripe old age of 78 years old, but we are the ones who are blessed. This amazing woman is more agile and energetic than most people I know half her age and there is simply no stopping her!

Rivera packed the Dunstan playhouse with adoring fans for her three performances, and took the audience on a trip down memory lane. Beginning where you must, at the start, Rivera tells us what it was like being a Broadway star in the “Golden Age” and how blessed she feels to have been involved in musical theatre when she was. This year marks the 53rd anniversary of West Side Story, and Rivera amusingly remarks about getting around living the life of a 35 year old, not realising all this time just how long it’s been. “Don’t count ladies!” she tells the audience as she launches into ‘A Boy Like That’ and ‘America’. Rivera recounts her experiences auditioning for Leonard Bernstein, working with Jerome Robbins (who she calls Big Daddy), Arthur Lawrence and Stephen Sondheim.

The who’s who of friends and colleagues, the shows she has been in and the life she has lived is nothing short of awe inspiring.

Rivera loves to shake it, and sings “Sweet Happy Life” whilst dancing a Samba! “I’ve gotta have my rythm” Rivera says, “your soul and your body come together with that rhythm, and it keeps you young when you move all the time” of that Rivera is living proof.

Rivera sings songs from ‘Spiderwoman’, ‘Sweet Charity, ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Seventh Heaven’. The band which consisted of Rivera’s MD who played Drums and Xylophone and her Pianist, included 4 other musicians on a variety of instruments including Flute, Saxophone, Clarinet, Trumpet, Violin and Double Bass.

The show followed a beautiful line through Chita’s life and touched on some of her most wonderful memories, like working with Liza Minelli in ‘The Rink’ (playing her mother, which she still looks far too young to do!) and transitioning into dark musicals like ‘Carousel’.

A fantastic show, from an amazing woman and incredible performer, don’t let anyone tell you Chita Rivera hasn’t still got it!

Paul Rodda

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