As Broadway and Off-Broadway shows went dark in the face of record snowfall and New York City mass transit was shut down, two-time Tony Award winner Rivera and an 11-piece band of dedicated musicians performed for a packed house at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Appel Room Monday night.
Producers at the New York metropolitan area PBS station THIRTEEN captured the one-of-a-kind night as part of "Great Performances: Chita Rivera," a retrospective to celebrate Rivera's life and career.
The special will air as part of PBS' 2015 Fall Arts Festival.
"What a show we had last night! I never thought twice about canceling the taping we did for THIRTEEN and 'Great Performances,' Rivera said in a statement to Playbill.com. "The evening was totally energizing for me, the musicians and for all our wonderful guests who braved the elements to be our audience. I am so grateful to them all, and of course to everyone on the THIRTEEN production team... and of course MY team! I was even ready to do it all over again!"
Lucky die-hard fan who braved the weather to be in attendance were witness to Rivera's performances of songs from West Side Story; Sweet Charity; Chicago; Kiss of the Spider Woman; Bye, Bye, Birdie; The Rink; and her upcoming Broadway return in Kander and Ebb's The Visit. The evening also feature a special tribute to Rivera's friends and collaborators John Kander, Fred Ebb and Terrence McNally.
Rivera returns to Broadway this spring in The Visit, the new Kander and Ebb musical that will begin previews March 26 at the Lyceum Theatre. The production marks the third collaboration for Kander and Ebb, McNally and Rivera. The artists previously worked together on The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman, both of which led Rivera to Tony Award wins for her performances.
A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom as well as the Kennedy Center Honor (the first Hispanic woman ever chosen to receive this award), Rivera has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and received seven additional Tony nominations. She is well known for her starring roles in the original Broadway productions of West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Dancer’s Life and the revivals of Nine and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, among others.