By Sandi Durell
There aren’t many entertainers, or in this case icons who, at certain tender ages, can still transport their audiences back into great musical history that remains ever present and alive. Chita Rivera is one of the few and from her opening, there’s no doubt, she’s got “A Lot of Livin’ To Do.” She’s movin’ and a groovin’ through most of her time on that small stage at Café Carlyle that has seen the best celebrity performers throughout the years. You can’t stop this train!
Dressed in black sequins from head to toe, and looking glamorous, her vitality is unending. And . . .Chita loves to chatter . . . with stories about her wonderful career and all those phone calls that changed her life in theater. . . especially those calls from John Kander and Fred Ebb. Lest we forget, there was that amazing call from Leonard Bernstein asking her to come to his apartment where he taught her all her music to West Side Story (A Boy Like That, America).
Her rendition of Unger/Young’s “Camille, Collette, Fifi” (Seventh Heaven) is unmatchable, while the dizzying Jacques Brel’s “Carousel” creates new and delicious cotton candies in her grip.
The evening progresses stronger and stronger with songs from her exquisite roles in Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Rink (“Chief Cook and Bottle Washer”), moving into Kander and Ebb’s most recent theater piece, The Visit in which Chita Rivera starred with the very missed Roger Rees, as she offers the sad, reflective “Love and Love Alone.”
What could be more exciting than Chita in top hat, cane in hand performing “Nowadays” and “All That Jazz?” One hit after another, until you’re breathless with the excitement she generates on stage.
With Michael Croiter, her music director, on percussion and guitar, Jason Loffredo on piano, Dan Willis on reeds and Jim Donica on bass, this top of the line group of musicians breathe every note and nuance in tandem with the joyful Chita Rivera.
There is no doubt this star loves her audiences, her generosity ever flowing. Not to be missed!!
Photos: David Andrako
Chita Rivera appears at Café Carlyle (35 East 76 Street/Madison Avenue) thru May 20. 212 744-1600