Musical theatre legend Chita Rivera stars as the domineering matron Bernarda Alba in Chay Yew's adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba playing Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum July 14-Sept. 1.
Lisa Peterson directs the dark drama, which also features stage and TV's Sandra Oh (Stop Kiss, Dogeaters, "Arli$$").
Rivera is best known for her legendary musical and dance work. Since the 1950s, she has originated major roles in the companies of West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman and, recently, the world premiere of The Visit at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. Rivera won two Tony Awards as a Leading Actress in a Musical — one for The Rink and one for Kiss of the Spider Woman.
At the start of Bernarda Alba, the newly widowed Alba commands that her five daughters remain within her house for eight years of mourning. While Bernarda's mad, aged mother rages, the eldest daughter courts a suitor, who captures the heart of the youngest. The daughters become so overwhelmingly jealous in their forced captivity that the inevitable result is another tragic death.
Director of the Asian Theatre Workshop at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum, Yew also wrote Red, Wonderland, A Beautiful Country and A Language of Their Own. His The House of Bernarda Alba premiered at New York City's National Asian American Theatre Company in December 2000 with Obie winner Ching Valdes Aran and Tony Award nominee Julyana Soelistyo in the cast. Joining Rivera and Oh at the Taper are Christine Avila, Marissa Chibas, Tsai Chin (Golden Child), Aixa Clemente, Eileen Galindo, Karen Huie, Carla Jimenez, Lydia Look, Lina Patel, Lisa Renee Pitts, Jeanne Sakata, Camille Saviola (Ragtime, Nine), Shaheen Vaas and Rita Wolf.
For reservations ($30-$44), call (213) 628-2772. The Mark Taper Forum is located at 135 N. Grand Ave. and on the web at http://www.taperahmanson.com.
— By Christine Ehren