West side stories: Chita Rivera shares tales of stage and song

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Call it dish of the Spider-Woman!

Musical theater legend Chita Rivera will be telling behind-the-scenes stories from her iconic 65-year career at Kingsborough College on Nov. 19. In her show “Chita: A Legendary Celebration,” the two-time Tony-winning diva will sing some of her greatest hits, and give a guided tour of the pivotal performances and people in her career. The performance will be much more than a stage show, said the song-and-dance woman.

“It’s just a completely different formula than having a script,” said Rivera. “I’ll perform and I will tell stories about actors and how I feel about certain things that happened. There’s more variety.”

The theatrical icon has been a fixture on Broadway since 1957, best known for originating the roles of America-boosting Anita in “West Side Story,” femme fatale Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” and the title character in “Kiss of the Spider-Woman.” During her show at Kingsborough, Rivera will recreate 12 numbers from the Great White Way, including the shows listed above and “Sweet Charity,” “The Rink,” and “Bye, Bye, Birdie.”

She will pepper her performances with stories about actors she worked with through the decades, a collection of Broadway and Hollywood royalty that includes Bob Fosse, Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minelli, and Shirley MacLaine, among many others.

The show is a trip down memory lane for Rivera — and also for the audience, she said, many of whom feel a connection to the iconic songs.

“Most of the time people who are coming have some memories of that particular time,” said Rivera. “And I’m there to entertain and make them feel good and bring back some memories.”

The organizers of On Stage at Kingsborough were thrilled to add Rivera to their roster of performers this year. Her experience with acting, music, and dance makes her a perfect choice for the performance series, said the group’s executive director.

“Our mission is to present leading artists in their field,” said Anna Becker. “Whether it’s dance, whether it’s music, whether it’s theater, you can’t do that without Chita Rivera. She’s the one that blazed that path.”

“Chita: A Legendary Celebration” at On Stage at Kingsborough [2001 Oriental Blvd. between Quentin Street and Decatur Avenue in Manhattan Beach, (718) 368–5596,]. Nov. 19 at 8 pm. $35–$40.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 11:41 am, November 16, 2016
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Reasonable discourse

Honeysita from Red Hook says:
It's nice to see a proud LATINA sticking it to the man! Suck it "the man" - Conchita Banana and her friends are here 2 stay!!!
Nov. 16, 2016, 8:20 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
or is she rita moreno
Nov. 17, 2016, 5:05 pm

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