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Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom

Chita Rivera will be appearing at Segerstrom Center for The Arts in her latest concert show The Rhythm of My Life December 11th

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom

The incomparable Broadway legend Chita Rivera will be appearing at Segerstrom Center for The Arts in her latest concert show The Rhythm of My Life December 11, 2022. This talented lady has been awarded countless awards, including Tonys, a Lifetime Achievement Tony, the Medal of Freedom and a Kennedy Center Honor.

I have the pleasure of chatting on the phone with Chita after her long day appearing at Disney World.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Chita!

George Dvorsky will be joining you at Segerstrom as he did at The Colonial in July of this year. Did you two just click when he was Billy to your Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes at Paper Mill Playhouse in 2000?

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom Yes. That's exactly what we did. I liked him immediately, and vice versa. And I respect his talent. So, we've said, 'One day we'll do it again.' And sure enough, we gonna be doing a couple of numbers with him. And with my daughter Lisa.

When did you and your daughter first perform together - in your living room or on a live stage?

I think a Merv Griffin Show years and years ago. Yeah, it was really very exciting. It was very eye opening for me. So, we decided to combine a couple of numbers with her in this show.

How long has the gestation period for Rhythm of My Life been from amoeba of an Idea to your recent Colonial production?

You know when you've got the material that I have. And I have been gifted with this material my whole life because it was a golden age of theater. When I did all of these shows, they exist and they last long, a long, long time, as they should and so I just put them together and they go so well together.

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom Who were your collaborators for this show?

My daughter was part of it and some of my musicians. We get in the room, and we decide what numbers are best to go together. That's how we do it.

You've done countless shows by Kander & Ebb. What do you remember as the start of your long professional collaborations?

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom Oh my gosh! Zorba! Zorba was the first one. I had seen Zorba and they needed a replacement for the Leader. I auditioned for it and I got it. That was the first and I can blame Kander & Ebb for whatever I am now.

You have been an inspiration for generations of performers. At your young age of a month shy of 90, you can kick as high and sing as strong as a woman a third of your age. Would you describe your daily work-out routines?

Oh, well, it's not very much now. Clever planning really. You have to walk, and you have to be physical, and you have to use what you've got. I think using what you've got, it's a good expression.

Any special diet?

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom Just don't eat everything you want. I usually eat around three o'clock. I have a tuna sandwich or salad and then it's not very much that I eat. I drink water and tea. But I am aware of my being comfortable of not eating too much.

Do you have any pre-show warm-ups?

Oh yeah. I vocalize and I stretch. I usually am the first one in the theater. I warm up, I stretch this body. This body needs stretching.

Which were you most excited about - the anticipation of receiving your first Tony for The Rink in 1984? Or being told you were to be honored with the 2018 Tony Award for Life Achievement?

Well, each one has its own value, and you can't say one is bigger than the other. You are excited and you're grateful for everything that you get. You don't expect anything.

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom You have been deservedly recognized and awarded throughout your career. Is there one particular recognition or award that still stands up above the rest? Your very first dance trophy? The Presidential Medal of Freedom? The Kennedy Center Honor?

I think the Presidential Medal of Freedom was the first realization that I had done something right. Just spent most of the time saying, 'Why me?' You suddenly realize, 'Well there must be something to this!' And you're with the company that you're with. And who's giving it to you. I mean all of that has so much to do with how you react.

You've worked with an endless of the Best of the Best on Broadway. If I asked you about all of these greats, we'd be on the phone for hours. Would you just say one word or one phrase of the following?

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom I'll try.

Bob Fosse: Ohhh, sweet!

Terrence McNally: Awww! Very poignant. He's such a good friend, yeah!

Ebb & Kander: The reasons why I'm here. My closest friends.

Ann Reinking: Oh, I idolize her, and she was a wonderfully gifted dancer.

Jerome Robbins: Big Daddy!

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom Stephen Sondheim: Ummm, Extraordinary!

Leonard Bernstein: Oh, The Man! The Man!

Charles Strouse & Lee Adams: They're responsible for a wonderful, wonderful turn in my life. They're exciting!

Jerry Herman: Awww. You see, each one of them is a friend of mine and so if I make a sound, you know it's a love sound. He's a lovebird.

Gwen Verdon: She's The Woman. She's the best!

How hands on are you with the Chita Rivera Awards and the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation, Inc.? Do you audition the applicants? Emcee the award ceremonies?

I do emcee the award ceremonies. I am not hands on as much as I would like to be, but I do emcee the awards.

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom When the diner scene in Tick! Tick! Boom! opened, I couldn't stop screaming at the screen. The Broadway legends in that one scene just blew my mind. How did you get involved in that scene? Was it a simple phone call from Lin-Manuel?

That's exactly what it was. It was a simple call from Lin-Manuel. And I was honored to do it.

Wow, that's just so cool!

It really was cool!

How do you not get tired of performing your audience favorites?

Because it's bread. It's food. It's a combination of pleasing the audience. And then knowing what you're doing. It's a wonderful relationship between audience and yourself.

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom I met you briefly years ago when you were being honored by the Actors' Fund. And you're still helping out the Actors' Fund today, guesting on Seth Rudetsky & James Wesley's Stars in The House. Do you have any personal Actors' Fund anecdotes that you can share with our BroadwayWorld readers?

Not really, I mean, they're all pretty exciting. But I love working and doing for the Actors' Fund. Right now, my oldest brother is in the Actors Fund home, and it works. It's a wonderful thing when actors are taken care of. And not just actors.

Interview: The Ever Vibrant Chita Rivera On Bringing THE RHYTHM OF Her LIFE to Segerstrom What's in the near future for Chita Rivera besides your long-awaited memoir in April of next year?

Well, I'll just see what comes next. Yes, just be open to whatever is next and hope I'm a good example to the young dancers and singers of the future.

Thank you so much for spending this time with me, Chita.

Thank you and thank you for being so sweet about it. You're very cheerful and

I'm such an old fogie. I've just gotten back from Disney World where I walked for and I stood for a long time. I read The Christmas Story. Really very, very exciting. But today, I just didn't feel like getting out of that bed, but you helped me so!

Thank you again, Chita! I look forward to seeing you wow the Segerstrom audience.

For tickets for The Rhythm of My Life December 11, 2022; click on the button below:



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