NEW YORK — Chita Rivera is back on Broadway with “Chita Rivera: A Dancer’s Life,” a one-woman show with backup dancers at the Schoenfeld Theatre, which is in previews and officially opens Sunday. The show is about her career as a triple threat — a dancer, a singer and an actress — working with the likes of Jerome Robbins, Michael Kidd and Bob Fosse.
WWD: What made you want to do a stage show and not write a memoir?
Chita Rivera: I’m not comfortable with just me, me, me. That’s boring. So this show has worked out perfectly because it’s through me, but it’s about something much bigger than me — the dancer itself and the spirit of the dance. It’s a huge education that’s got to be given back to the kids, and how often are you ever given a chance to revisit your life?
WWD: Is there anything you didn’t get to include?
C.R.: There are so many things still left for me. I’ve just hung in there for so long that there are so many great songs I don’t do. I don’t do “Spanish Rose” [from “Bye Bye Birdie”]. But please, you’ve gotta go home! How much can you do? You’ve got to leave ’em wanting more.
WWD: Being 72 years old, is the dancing harder than it used to be?
C.R.: When you’re a pony out there, you can crawl through broken glass. But this show has all been staged specifically for me, and we don’t pull back on anything. Not one of my backup dancers is under 30. They’re gorgeous guys and fabulous-looking women who can still kick it. They’re great examples of what you can still be doing if you do it right.
WWD: Like you?
C.R.: Hello! Hopefully! Still, you will not see any flying splits. I’d like to live. I’ve lasted this long, I’d like to last a little longer.
WWD: Have you done flying splits?
This story first appeared in the December 8, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
C.R.: Of course I have! [Laughter]
WWD: When was your last flying split?
C.R.: In “Can Can” in 1988. You are so trying to get the dirt, aren’t you? Trying to find out when I could do the split. You little devil, you! Don’t you make this whole article about flying splits, promise me.