Chita Rivera’s Favorite Roles

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Chita Rivera (Photo by Laura Marie Duncan)
Chita Rivera
(Photo by Laura Marie Duncan)

Fans of the Great White Way are well familiar with the impressive body of work the woman born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero has been a major part of since first professionally taking the stage alongside the late Elaine Stritch for a national tour of Call Me Madam in 1952. Long Island Weekly recently had a chance to ask Chita Rivera what her favorite roles are that she’s played through several decades on the stage.

Chita Rivera and Dick Van Dyke during the 1960 production of Bye Bye Birdie (Photo by Friedman-Abeles)
Chita Rivera and Dick Van Dyke during the 1960 production of Bye Bye Birdie
(Photo by Friedman-Abeles)

 

 

 

 

Rosie Alvarez in Bye Bye Birdie (1960 & 1961)
“I had just done West Side Story and that was dark and passionate and subject matter that unfortunately hasn’t gone away. Then you flip it over and you have Bye Bye Birdie directed by Gower Champion. It was like going from black and white to Technicolor. It was a great comedy.”

 

Chita Rivera in the lead role of Aurora during her early 1990s, Tony Award-winning turn in Kiss of the Spider Woman (Photo by Catherine Ashmore)
Chita Rivera in the lead role of Aurora during her early 1990s, Tony Award-winning turn in Kiss of the Spider Woman
(Photo by Catherine Ashmore)

 

 

 

 

Aurora in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992, 1993, 1994)
“It was an amazing story and it was directed by Hal Prince. It was a political and social story that I thought was really important.”

 

 

Chita Rivera in The Visit
Chita Rivera in The Visit

Claire Zachanassian in The Visit
“I absolutely love and adore this musical. It’s very dark, very European, brilliantly directed and choreographed by Graziela Daniele and directed by John Doyle with a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb and a book by Terrence McNally.”

 

 

Chita Rivera will be appearing in Chita: A Legendary Celebration on Nov. 18 at The Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, 720 Northern Blvd. in Greenvale. For more information, visit www.tillescenter.org or call 516-299-3100. 

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In addition to being editor of Garden City Life and Syosset-Jericho Tribune, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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