What keeps Broadway legend Chita Rivera going after over 60 years in the business?
“It’s simply being alive,” she says with an unquenchable twinkle in her eye. “What’s the alternative? I don’t want to miss anything.”
The two-time Tony winner, who originated the role of Anita in the 1957 Broadway production of West Side Story, sat on the stage of the West Bank Cafe with Soul Sisters hosts Darah Golub and Jessie Katz to describe what it was like hearing that historic score for the very first time (“Imagine just hearing that first downbeat…I have goose pimples now”) in the show that would redefine the American musical.
“We did feel as though we were doing something that meant something,” she recalls. Though West Side remains the show she’s most associated with, it was later roles in The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman that would bring Rivera her Tony Awards — though she jokes in her set at Café Carlyle, where she’s currently performing through April 30, that the Oscars are reserved for other people playing roles she originated (Rita Moreno won for playing Anita in the film version of West Side and Catherine Zeta-Jones for Velma in Chicago.)
She may joke, but Rivera is certainly not complaining.
“You gotta have a sense of humor about your life,” she laughs.
Check out the full episode below and be sure to subscribe to our iTunes channel for all future episodes: