Friday, August 25, 2006

Chita Rivera to Make Return "Visit" in DC

Chita Rivera to Make Return "Visit" in DC

Seventy-three years ago, Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero -- better known as Chita Rivera -- was born in Washington, DC. Just over a year from now, Washington's most legendary gypsy will return home for a new staging of The Visit, a John Kander/Fred Ebb collaboration that was first mounted with Rivera by Chicago's Goodman Theatre back in 2001. The new mounting will begin anew at the DC-area's respected Signature Theatre (Shirlington, Virginia) under the direction of Frank Galati (The Pirate Queen) with choreography by the amazing Ann Reinking (Chicago).

Rivera has often hinted that she'd like another shot at this black musical comedy role of Claire Zachanassian, the world's wealthiest woman with a score to settle. The original production was obviously not the hit she'd hoped for, and it never reached New York as planned. Of course, coming in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, perhaps the show was perceived as being much too dark for the time. Still I regret not having had an opportunity to see it, but am excited by the prospect of making my own visit to DC for this upcoming incarnation.

You see, although I've been a huge fan of Chita Rivera for many, many years, I actually never saw her perform live until catching her Tony-nominated turn as Liliane La Fleur in the 2003 Broadway revival of Nine. She took my breath away with a performance that literally stopped the show -- it's one of only four stage performances I've ever witnessed where the audience leapt to its feet for a standing ovation immediately after a number.

Since Nine, I've been fortunate to sit directly in front of her during one of her Feinstein's at the Regency gigs, and then in the front row for Chita Rivera: the Dancer's Life earlier this year. Now, I'm committed to seeing her whenever I can -- and when I'm feeling down, I find myself popping in my DVD of the "Sweet Charity" film just to marvel at her exquisite rendition of "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This" with Shirley MacLaine and Paula Kelly.

Of course, Rivera is going to have a very busy year ahead of her. She's already committed to taking the aforementioned Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life on tour, beginning January 2 in Miami and concluding June 3 in Buffalo. But I'm already plotting the September 2007 dates I'll be able to visit Rivera during her DC Visit.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for Signature Theatre ticket information.
Click here for Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life tour ticket information.

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