Veteran theatre actress-singer-dancer Chita Rivera is one of this year's Kennedy Center Honorees. Each year, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts selects five artists to honor for lifetime achievement in the performing arts. One of Washington's most celebrated traditions, an annual gala that is later broadcast on CBS-TV features tribute performances to each honoree. Last year's recipients included Julie Andrews, Van Cliburn, Quincy Jones, Jack Nicholson and Luciano Pavarotti. The President and the First Lady are also on hand to present the esteemed award prior to the gala.
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 and Jerry's Girls. 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 is currently headlines Bernarda Alba at the Mark Taper Forum.
Elizabeth Taylor, James Levine, Paul McCartney and Tony Award winner James Earl Jones are also among this year's Kennedy Center Honorees. Jones won his Tonys for The Great White Hope and Fences. His other Broadway credits include Sunrise at Campobello, The Cool World, Infidel Caesar, Danton's Death, A Hand Is on the Gate, Les Blancs, The Iceman Cometh, Of Mice and Men, Paul Robeson, A Lesson from Aloes, Othello and MASTER HAROLD . . . and the boys.
—By Andrew Gans