Photo Flash: Chita Rivera Joins The League Of Professional Theatre Women's for ORAL HISTORY
On Monday, May 7th The League of Professional Theatre Women (Kelli Lynn Harrison & Lisa Rothe, Co-Presidents), an organization which has been leading the gender parity conversation and championing women in the professional theatre for over 35 years, presented the final Oral History event of their 2017-18 season with two-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (111 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street). Ms. Rivera talked about her life and illustrious career with Broadway World's lead correspondent, Richard Ridge, host of Backstage with Richard Ridge.
Oral History, founded and run for many years by Betty Corwin (who recently resigned after decades producing the program) and currently produced by Co-Chairs Pat Addiss and Sophia Romma, is an ongoing program of the League of Professional Theatre Women, in partnership with the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts which chronicles and documents the contributions of significant theatre women in all fields.
The League of Professional Theatre Women's Oral History events have previously featured interviews with such notables as Daryl Roth, Phylicia Rashad, Frances McDormand, Billie Allen, Paula Vogel, Laura Linney, Baayork Lee, Patti LuPone, Carmen DeLavallade, Tyne Daly, Bebe Neuwirth, Mercedes Ruehl, Kia Corthron, Christine Ebersole, and many others. Annually, the legacies of three theatre women are preserved through the Oral History program, in which a theatre woman luminary is interviewed by the interviewer of their choice and they discuss their life and career before a live audience. The tapes are then housed in New York Public Library for the Performing Arts video archives.
Chita Rivera is an actress/singer/dancer who has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and received eight additional Tony nominations for an exceptional 10 Tony nominations. She recently starred in The Visit, the final John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Graciela Daniele on Broadway, the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Broadway and touring productions of The Dancer's Life, a dazzling new musical celebrating her spectacular career, written by Terrence McNally and directed by Graciela Daniele and the revival of the Broadway musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. She trained as a ballerina (from age 11) before receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from legendary George Balanchine. Chita's first appearance (age 17) was as a principal dancer in Call Me Madam. Her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of West Side Story brought her stardom, which she repeated in London. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink (Tony Award), Chicago, Jerry's Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award), and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful. On tour: Born Yesterday, The Rose Tattoo, Call Me Madam, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba, Can-Can with The Rockettes. Chita was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009 and received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in 2002. In November, 2016 she headlined at Carnegie Hall and in 2015, Great Performances aired their special Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin' To Do, a retrospective of her extraordinary life and career nationally on PBS. Her current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing. Her most treasured production is her daughter, singer/dancer/choreographer Lisa Mordente.
Richard Ridge is the lead correspondent for Broadway World, one of the most popular theatre websites receiving over 5.1 million visitors every month. For Broadway World, he is the host of " Backstage with Richard Ridge" which has long been the most popular outlet for Broadway stars and legends to talk about their careers. His guests have included Chita Rivera, Lin Manuel Miranda, Judith Light, Joan Rivers, Kristen Chenoweth, Nick Jonas, Jessie Mueller and Ellen Burstyn. Prior to that, he was the host of the groundbreaking "Broadway Beat" for 20 years. His latest venture is the filmed SAG/AFTRA Foundation/Broadway World "Conversations Q & A series", which recognize and celebrate the vibrant theatre community in New York City. The events are filmed for the Foundation's educational archives and a 30-minute version is featured on Broadway World. Past participants have included Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, David Tennent, Vanessa Redgrave, Liev Schreiber, Jeff Daniels, David Hyde Pierce, Jim Parsons Jason Alexander, Keegan Michael Key and Juliette Binouche.
THE LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL THEATRE WOMEN (a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization) has been championing women and leading the gender parity conversation in the professional theatre for over 35 years. Since its founding, the LPTW's membership has grown to 500+ theatre artists and practitioners of all backgrounds, across multiple disciplines, working in the commercial and non-profit sectors. To increase visibility of and opportunities for women in the field, the LPTW spearheads events, public programming, advocacy initiatives, media, and publications that celebrate industry luminaries, preserve the legacy of historic visionaries, raise awareness of the importance of nurturing women's voices, and shine a spotlight on the imperative of striving for gender parity and fostering a diversity of expression, both in the theatre world and the world at large. To find out more about how you can support its endeavors, please visit www.theatrewomen.org.
This program is made possible by major support from the Edith Meiser Foundation, and in part, with public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and with funds from the NYS Council on the Arts, a state agency, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
Photo credit: Kacey Stamats
Jackie Davis, Executive Director of the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, welcoming the standing room only crowd to another Oral History event