'Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life' at the Schoenfeld Theatre
Chita Rivera stars in Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, a musical celebrating the life and career of one of America's most beloved stage performers, written by four time Tony Award-winner Terrence McNally, with direction and choreography by Graciela Daniele, opens on Broadway on the 11 Dec 2005, following previews from the 23 Nov 2005 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.
Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life is a tour through landmark moments in the American theatre that were fashioned by some of the greatest talents in its history, including Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Fosse, Gower Champion, Michael Kidd, Harold Prince and Kander & Ebb, and will feature new songs by the Tony Award-winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. Along the way, Rivera and company will celebrate some of her most stunning and legendary Broadway performances - from West Side Story to Chicago to Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Prior to New York, the musical premieres at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, CA., beginning performances the 10 Sep 2005 (with a press opening scheduled for September 22, 2005), and concluding on the 6 Nov 2005.
"Chita Rivera is our strongest link to the Golden Age of the American Musical. She worked with all the great choreographers and composers and was present at the creation of such seminal masterpieces as The Dance at the Gym from West Side Story when the talent in the room was a veritable Mount Rushmore of the American theatre: Bernstein, Sondheim, Robbins, Laurents and Prince," said Terrence McNally. "I hope our show reminds audiences of what that level of theatre was like and what it still can be if the talent, the technique and the passion are there. Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life looks back in order to look forward."
As an aspiring 17-year-old ballerina, Chita Rivera decided to accompany a friend to an audition for the chorus of Call Me Madam without any serious intention of pursuing a part in the show. Jerome Robbins took one look, cast her as a principal dancer, and the rest is theatre history. Throughout her career, Chita has been referred to by the press as no less than "a force of nature" and a "true Broadway star."
Starring Chita Rivera the cast also features Richard Amaro, Cleve Asbury, Lloyd Culbreath, Madeleine Ehlert, Malinda Farrington, Edgard Gallardo, Deidre Goodwin, Richard Montoya, Liana Ortiz, Lainie Sakakura, Alex Sanchez and Allyson Tucker-Mitchell.
Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life features scenic design by Loy Arcenas, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer and sound design by Scott Lehrer. Musical direction is by Mark Hummel.
The musical will be produced on Broadway by West Egg Entertainment, The Producer Circle Co., Chase Mishkin and Stage Ventures III; with Marty Bell and Aldo Scrofani as Executive Producers.
Chita Rivera has won two Tony Awards (Kiss of the Spider Woman; The Rink) and received six additional Tony nominations. She recently starred on Broadway in the revival of the musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. In December, 2002 she received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in Washington, DC. Ms. Rivera created the role of Velma Kelly in the original Broadway production of Chicago opposite Gwen Verdon (1975) and appears in the film version. Chita starred in the London, Las Vegas and Toronto productions of Chicago-The Musical. Her recent starring roles include the new Kander/Ebb/McNally musical The Visit (Goodman Theatre) and The House of Bernarda Alba (Mark Taper Forum). Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, Jerry's Girls; (original Broadway casts) Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven, Mr. Wonderful.
Terrence McNally (book writer) was last represented on Broadway as the book writer for the musical The Full Monty, for which he received a Tony Award nomination; and off-Broadway as the book writer for the musical A Man of No Importance (music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens). He won his fourth Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Ragtime (music and lyrics by Flaherty and Ahrens). McNally won the Tony in 1996 for his play Master Class, in which Zoe Caldwell created the role of Maria Callas; the 1995 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Play as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play for Love! Valour! Compassion!; and the 1993 Tony for his book of the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman (music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb). His other plays include Corpus Christi; A Perfect Ganesh; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; The Lisbon Traviata; and It's Only a Play, all of which began at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
Graciela Daniele (Director/choreographer) most recently directed and choregraphed the premiere of the musical, Dessa Rose (music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens) for Lincoln Center Theater. She began her career on Broadway as a performer in such musicals as What Makes Sammy Run? (debut, 1964); Here's Where I Belong; Promises, Promises; Coco; Follies; and Chicago. She staged the musical numbers for Christopher Durang's A History of the American Film and choreographed such musicals as The Most Happy Fella (1979 revival), The Pirates of Penzance, Zorba (1983 revival), The Rink, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Goodbye Girl and Ragtime. Graciela directed and choreographed Dangerous Games (which she also conceived and wrote the book for), Once on this Island, Chronicle of a Death Foretold (also conceived and wrote the book), Annie Get Your Gun (starring Bernadette Peters), and Marie Christine. Ms. Daniele has been nominated for 10 Tony Awards for choreography, book and direction.
Originally published on