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Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word

Broadway World Cabaret continues its series about the artists for whom our team is grateful.

Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word

Chita Rivera - The Last Word

Chita Rivera. Say the name and the people to whom you speak will have a genuine, physical, emotional reaction. Perhaps they sigh, maybe they smile, possibly they blurt out some sentence or story about how she has affected their life. This is not hyperbole, it is not supposition; it is gospel. This actress who has created legendary roles on Broadway like Anita in West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie's Rosie, Velma Kelly of Chicago, and THE Spider Woman has touched lives and touched hearts, leaving behind her a legacy of actors who have looked to her work for guidance, and a long line of fans who simply adore Chita for her originality, inspiration, and fabulosity. She is also hailed as the nicest person in the business, and this reporter who, first, spent real quality time with Chita on October 28th of this year can verify that the rumors are true: Chita Rivera is the nicest person in show business. Chita is funny, too, hilariously so. But all of that comes across when you go to see a Chita Rivera club act, so this should come as a surprise to no one.

When Chita Rivera began her club career, she was already a Broadway Leading Lady and a Star. Her close friends John Kander and Fred Ebb had the idea to put her on the nightclub stage, and she has never left it. Chita Rivera has continued to bring her nightclub acts to stages everywhere, most recently to New York City's 54 Below in 2019, when she played Broadway's Living Room with an eponymous show. To sit in an audience and experience so generous a performer is a gift. Sharing stories from her life and career, reminiscences about her fellow legends, including the legends that are not people, but are plays in which she has acted, Chita keeps it real, she stays funny, she welcomes loved ones (like daughter Lisa Mordente) to join her on the stage, and she still has some dance moves to thrill and titillate. A Chita Rivera club act is a master class in live entertainment, but it is also a master class in theatrical history and a master class in living one's life to the fullest. A Chita Club Act is a journey that everyone should take, at least once, but as often as possible because they just don't make them like Chita Rivera anymore. She is a Lady, she is a Legend, she is a Star, and everyone at our photo shoot left the studio on Cloud Nine after laughing for over an hour with one of the funniest people on the planet.

To make this particular article as special as the artist in its spotlight, Chita and I spent a few minutes after our photo shoot talking about the art of cabaret, the family that plays together, and a pastime that Chita holds very near and dear to her heart.

This article has been edited for space and content.

Hi, Chita!

Hi.

Welcome to Broadway World.

Thank you for having me.

We are talking about cabaret today.

Okay.

When you started your nightclub act...

Yes!

You already had a history of playing great characters.

Right.

When you transitioned from playing characters to being onstage as Chita, were you nervous? Was it scary?

The thing that really helped me with a nightclub act was Freddy and John said, "We will do an act for you," and I went, "No, I can't do an act. I don't know who I am." And so I learned who I was through that nightclub act... through Freddy writing for me, knowing who I am, knowing more of who I am than I did. And then, I would come back to the theater, and all you had to do is do the character, read the words, be that person. I learned who I was through my nightclub act.

That was a while ago.

Yes, it was.

What is the biggest change that you've seen in the nightclub and cabaret industry from then to now?

Oh, wow.

Is there a single biggest change?

I really don't know, because we went through a time where people exposed themselves, and they would sing songs that were popular then. Now they're talking a bit more, and it's important that they pick the right subjects.

What would you say, if you were teaching a master class, is the most important thing about connecting with your audience in a small venue?

Oh, look them right in the eye! Really feel as though there is no difference between you being on stage and them being in the audience, to really talk to them. Don't talk at them, talk to them. And when you want to fantasize about something, then you take them with you, to go wherever you want to take them. Most importantly, don't be afraid of them. Don't be afraid of them because they're there to stimulate you, to expose you. You're there on the same trip as they are, only you are driving the cart.

There are a lot of professions and careers where parents and children work together. The last time that I saw your act, Lisa came up on stage and worked with you.

Yeah.

Put me in the picture of being an acting parent working with their acting child.

Oh, it's an unbelievable feeling. You really lose yourself... if I make any sense at all, you gain yourself by giving to your child. I'll never forget the first time I saw Lisa perform - I was slouched down in the chair, and the minute she opened her mouth, I sat straight up because I knew she knew where she was. She respected that area. And when she was with me - I was on a Merv Griffin show - I found myself stepping back and giving the stage to her. And, then, the last time we were together, we were on the same level. You're willing to take anything; when you've got a child, you become really strong.

So, we are wrapping a fun photo shoot, where you have had several people lavish you with their love and adoration.

Oh my goodness!

For many people, this is their frame of reference, where you are concerne. You are their North star, their idol. But what everyone here has learned today is that you're just a girl that loves Halloween and scaring people!

Absolutely!!!

How does a girl balance out being a legend and a Halloween & Horror fan? Where do you find balance?

My balance is scaring people!! It makes me laugh. It satisfies me so much! It is seeing people at their most vulnerable situation, and I like that!

Well, Happy Halloween!

That's my favorite time!

Chita, thank you for this. I love you.

Oh, I love you. And thank you for, just, the best experience!

Read the Broadway World Cabaret review of a Chita Rivera show HERE.

Chita Rivera's online presence is as follows:

Instagram: Click HERE.

Facebook: Click HERE.

Twitter: Click HERE.

Chita Rivera's pronouns are She/Her/Hers

Chita Rivera's future projects include:

CHITA: A MEMOIR will release on April 25, 2023 and can be pre-ordered HERE.

Chita Rivera was styled by Steven Brian Harris.

Photos by Stephen Mosher; Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE. Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word

Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word

Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word

Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word

Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word


Feature: 30 Days Of Cabaret Gratitude - Day Thirty - The Last Word



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From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Cra... (read more about this author)


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