Monday, October 19, 2009

Chita Rivera (The SOB Review)

Chita Rivera (The SOB Review) – Birdland, New York, New York

***1/2 (out of ****)

What becomes a legend most?

Signature roles that have become so deeply ingrained into our collective popular psyche like Anita (West Side Story), Rose (Bye Bye Birdie), Velma (Chicago) or Aurora (Kiss of the Spider Woman) that they've forever earned a special place in our hearts?

How about two Tony Award honors (The Rink and Kiss Of The Spider Woman) out of nine Tony nods after appearing in 15 Broadway shows spanning 55 years?

Or a personalized Broadway show (the 2005-06 production of Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life) based on the legend's extraordinary life?

Could it be a career topping honor in earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

Sure, each of these exceptional chapters from the distinguished life of Chita Rivera alone could easily be considered a lasting legacy for most acclaimed actors. And they would justifiably wear any of these achievements proudly.

But most actors are not Chita Rivera. The truth is, if the 76-years young Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero hadn't been born the Broadway Baby she is, the Great White Way would have had to invent her. The fact that she's the genuine article who's still going strong after all these years not only becomes her tenacity, but it's a testament to her courage and talent.

What really becomes Chita Rivera is that she continues to mesmerize adoring audiences as she's proven yet again during her all-too-brief stint last week at Birdland. Sure, we've heard many of the enchanting anecdotes before. But when the enduring and endearing Ms. Rivera can run circles around gifted performers half her age, she effortlessly retains the mantle as the singular consummate entertainer of our time.

With even the slightest of movement in accentuating her greatest hits ranging from West Side Story's "America" to Chicago's "All That Jazz," as well as humorous stories touching on everyone from Donald O'Connor to Catherine Zeta-Jones (click here to see what she told the latter on the first night of her Birdland gig), Rivera proves that she has more going on in one little finger than most younger performers have, period. Ms. Rivera not only easily holds her audience in the palm of her hand, but she tenderly carresses them and tops it off with a loving kiss.

This marked my fifth opportunity to see this legendary performer on stage. With all the vitality she continues to possess, I have no doubt I'll have many more chances to revel in her exquisite charm.

If you've never seen Chita Rivera live, you simply haven't lived.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 20 October, 2009, Blogger Sarah B. Roberts said...

Excuse me, I believe my presence alone should have earned the fourth star. Anyway, THANK YOU for including me in the evening. I adore Chita and had a tremendously wonderful time.

At 20 October, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

You alone were off the charts ... thanks for sharing the joy and fun with me.


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