Broadway legend Chita Rivera visits
Tony Award-winning Broadway singer, dancer and actress
recently spoke to University of Missouri-Kansas City students and faculty at the Performing Arts Center. As part of a fundraiser for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Rivera also performed pieces from her signature Broadway shows that evening at Spencer Theatre.
Despite a generational gap, Rivera related well to UMKC students, said Laura
Muir, communications director for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. “I don’t
see a generational gap when someone as honest, forthright and giving as Chita Rivera speaks,” Muir said. “What people can learn from her is to never give up
and keep an open mind and a good attitude. Look how far it’s taken her in life.”
Kat Endsley, a first-year Master of Fine Arts acting student at UMKC, said she found encouragement from Chita’s question-and-answer session.
“She’s a legend,” Endsley said. “She’s incredible. She’s got this energy and this kindness about her.”
In 1950, Rivera started out as a dancer in the Broadway debut of “Guys and
Dolls.” She has toured internationally in “Can-Can” with the Radio City Music
Hall Rockettes, and she played the starring role of Anita in the 1957 Broadway premiere of “West Side Story.” In 1960, she starred in “Bye Bye Birdie” as Rose Alvarez, the girlfriend and secretary of Albert Peterson, played by Dick Van Dyke.
Since then, she has appeared in “Chicago,” “Bring Back Birdie,” “Merlin,” “The Rink,” “Jerry’s Girls,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Nine” and “Chita Rivera: Dancer’s Life.”