A Graceful Exit: Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life Plays Final Performance Feb. 19

News   A Graceful Exit: Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life Plays Final Performance Feb. 19 Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, the new musical that celebrates the life and career of Tony Award winner Chita Rivera, plays its final performance at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre Feb. 19 at 3 PM.

Chita Rivera in Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life.
Chita Rivera in Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life. Photo by Paul Kolnick

The production, which officially opened Dec. 11, 2005, will have played 20 previews and 72 regular performances.

A tour of The Dancer's Life is scheduled to kick off Jan. 2, 2007, at the Miami Performing Arts Center in Miami, FL. Additional dates will be announced shortly.

Much has been done in recent weeks to help prolong the life of The Dancer's Life, which opened to mixed reviews, though there was unanimous praise for Broadway favorite Rivera's work. Former Bye, Bye Birdie co-star Dick van Dyke made several guest appearances in The Dancer's Life, and additional songs were added to the production after opening. Cast members also took part in an evening at the dance club Splash to help raise the show's visibility.

Dancers in the show also formed The Broadway Gives Back Fund to allow students and up-n-coming dancers the chance to see the musical before it closes. The show's dancers, in fact, agreed to subsidize tickets to the final shows for young performers. Cast member Lainie Sakakura, who initiated the project, said in a recent statement, "We believe that every young dancer should see this show before it ends its Broadway run. If anyone aspires to perform on Broadway, and they could see only one show, The Dancer's Life is it!"

The Dancer's Life began previews at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre Nov. 23, 2005. Boasting a book by Terrence McNally and direction/choreography by Graciela Daniele, the production stars Rivera with Liana Ortiz as Little Chita/Lisa. The ensemble comprises Richard Amaro, Lloyd Culbreath, Malinda Farrington, Edgard Gallardo, Deirdre Goodwin, Richard Montoya, Lainie Sakakura, Alex Sanchez and Allyson Tucker. Cleve Asbury and Madeleine Kelly are swings. Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, according to production notes, is a "tour through landmark creations in the American theatre that were helmed by some of the greatest talents in its history, including Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Fosse, Gower Champion and Michael Kidd." The production features new songs by Ragtime's Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty with numbers from West Side Story, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Among the songs heard in the production are "Dancing on the Kitchen Table," "Something to Dance About," "I'm Available," "Camille, Colette, Fifi," "Garbage," "Can-Can," "Mr. Wonderful," "A Boy Like That," "Dance at the Gym," "Somewhere," "Put on a Happy Face," "Rosie," "Don't 'Ah Ma' Me," "Big Spender," "Nowadays," "More Than You Know," "A Woman the World Has Never Seen," "Class," "Chief Cook & Bottlewasher," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Where You Are" and "All That Jazz."

The creative team for the new production includes Loy Arcenas (scenic design), Toni-Leslie James (costume design), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting design), Scott Lehrer (sound design), Mark Hummel (musical direction) and Danny Troob (orchestrations).

Writer McNally said in a statement, "Chita Rivera is our strongest link to the Golden Age of the American Musical. She worked with all the great choreographers and composers and was present at the creation of such seminal masterpieces as The Dance at the Gym from West Side Story when the talent in the room was a veritable Mount Rushmore of the American theatre: Bernstein, Sondheim, Robbins, Laurents and Prince. I hope our show reminds audiences of what that level of theatre was like and what it still can be if the talent, the technique and the passion are there. Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life looks back in order to look forward."

Born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in 1933, Chita Rivera is one of the theatre's most acclaimed performers. She has won Tony Awards for her performances in two Kander and Ebb musicals, The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman, and was also nominated for her work in Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, Bring Back Birdie, Merlin, Jerry's Girls and her most recent outing, the Tony-winning revival of Nine. Rivera's other Broadway credits include the musical Seventh Heaven, her Broadway debut; Mr. Wonderful; the original production of West Side Story; and Bajour. She appeared in the film version of "Sweet Charity," starred in the world premiere of Kander and Ebb's The Visit, and also headlined Bernarda Alba at the Mark Taper Forum.

Tickets for Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life are priced $55-$100. The Schoenfeld Theatre is located in Manhattan at 236 West 45th Street.

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