Part of the Cadogan Hall Broadway series, we were treated yesterday to a visit to London by an icon of musical royalty, Chita Rivera.
Now 86 years old, she created the roles of Anita in West Side Story and Velma Kelly in Chicago, toured in Sweet Charity, and appeared in London in Bye Bye Birdie and Kiss of the Spiderwoman.
Old enough to have known the likes of Bernstein, Fosse and Kander & Ebb, she performed a diverse set of numbers punctuated by stories of her road to success.
Her voice isn’t what it was – although in A Boy Like That, All That Jazz, Jacques Brel’s Carousel and a number from Kander & Ebb’s final show The Visit it comes to life with hints of the vibrancy she must have shown fifty or sixty years ago.
Head to toe in red from her earrings to high-heeled shoes, ‘Chi’ is still every inch a star, with knowing asides and dance moves.
Her set is full of lesser-known numbers from the likes of The Rink, Sweet Charity, Seventh Heaven (in which Chita sings not just the part of Fifi but also Camille and Cosette!), and Bye Bye Birdie (assisted by Tim Flavin on one song, Rosie).
Enjoyable, if only to see an original star in action – there are fewer of them by the year, but this one shows no signs of slipping into retirement just yet.
Photo credits – Laura Marie Duncan.