DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Tony Winner and The Mystery of Edwin Drood Star Chita Rivera

By Andrew Gans
16 Nov 2012

Rivera and Gregg Edelman in Drood.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Question: What was the rehearsal process like having to prepare for the different endings? A killer, lovers and a detective are all selected by the audience.
Rivera: You just learn it, and then when you're called on to do it, you just do it. The hard part is, because you don't do it every night, you have to run it over in your mind. It's kind of a scary kind of thing. It's a lot of fun for the audience. It's a bit of a shock for the actor, but there are some actors that love it. I'm not crazy about sometimes being thrown into something. I love being one of the lovers — that's a lot of fun. It's fun once you've given yourself to the show, and you're in it, and you get to the end, and some funny things happen, so it's very much alive… It's an excellent company with superb voices. It's a wonderful company.

Question: What is it like backstage with such a great cast? I would imagine there is a lot of energy from not quite knowing what the ending will be each night.
Rivera: Oh, no — nobody thinks about it until you do the show… You don't talk about it. You don't think about it. These are very professional people. Everybody gets along beautifully. And, besides, we're not in the same room. We're on all different floors, so we see each other when we get on stage.

Question: Have you been involved in anything similar to British Music Hall?
Rivera: No. This is a first.

Question: Tell me a bit about working with Scott Ellis and also with Warren Carlyle.
Rivera: I've never known Warren before, and he is a very warm and very nice guy — very, very nice guy — and he does a very fine job with the show. Scott's excellent. He's had a lot of experience since we worked together [in The Rink, when] he was in the show — he was an actor, singer and a roller skater. He's very open, very free. He allows you to share your opinions. He's excellent. He's had a lot of experience since he's been working for the Roundabout. And, he does a lot of television. He's a very nice guy — very fair — and he's very interesting.

Question: I don't know if you know how many people admire and respect you in the business. I wonder what that means to you as a person and a performer to know how respected you are.
Rivera: Well, that means everything to me. It means absolutely everything to me because you can't get any work done unless you work with people, and you can't enjoy it unless you share it, and you can't learn unless you listen. And, you learn so much from your fellow actors and the creative staff. I've been a very lucky woman with the Kander and Ebbs and the Cy Colemans and the Jerome Robbinses and the Leonard Bernsteins, so that's quite a wonderful thing that's happened to my career and my life. My door is always open, and I enjoy what I do because I keep my mind open. You can't do anything by yourself anyhow.