PHOTO CALL: Ben Vereen, Tommy Tune, Jerry Mitchell, Laura Benanti and More at Chita: A Legendary Celebration; Red Carpet and Performance

By Matthew Blank
10 Oct 2013

Chita: A Legendary Celebration, the star-studded, one-night-only celebration of two-time Tony winner Chita Rivera that was presented Oct. 7 at the August Wilson Theatre, raised over $400,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.



The sold-out event took in $413,660 for the charitable organization.



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Ben Vereen and Chita Rivera
Photo by Daniel Roberts



The 8 PM performance, which celebrated Rivera's 80th birthday, was directed by Graciela Daniele and written by Terrence McNally, with musical direction by Michael Croiter.

Joining the legendary artist on stage were Tony Award winners Tommy Tune and Ben Vereen. Also joining Rivera were several of her dancers from Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Dancer's Life, including Richard Amaro, Brad Bradley, Lloyd Culbreath, Raymond Del Barrio, Robert Montano and Alex Sanchez, as well as Kyle Taylor Parker and Nathan Peck from Broadway's Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots.

Composer John Kander also offered a special tribute on video.

About co-stars Tune and Vereen, Rivera recently told Playbill.com, "Tommy’s been my friend forever — I've been around so long that most of my friends are forever, but Tommy is somebody that I absolutely — I don’t use the word idolize very much, but he’s pretty close to it. He’s one of the most gifted people I know and has given so much to the theatre, but the most important thing about Tommy is that he’s one of the kindest, sweetest souls you’d ever meet. We’ve been friends for a long, long time, and I just hope he comes back to Broadway because I just think the theatre misses Tommy. I’m sure it’s up to him, but just to see him on a Broadway stage again… It’d just be great to see him… The same thing with Ben. I’ve known Ben since Sweet Charity; we’ve been friends ever since then. We’ve even played together in clubs and stuff. He had that horrible accident, then he came back. He just proves he’s an authentic. He and Tommy are the real deal."

Read the complete interview with the triple-threat here.

"Since our earliest days in the late 1980s, Chita Rivera has been one of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS great champions, a true and loyal friend," said Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, in an earlier statement. “Chita is beloved on Broadway. She has excelled at every aspect of the business as a performer with great style, commitment, humor and embrace. She also believes that no member of her professional family should ever be left alone in crisis or isolation. Whether appearing in countless benefits, signing posters and Playbills or encouraging others in the community to do the same, she is one of BC/EFA’s dearest friends. We are thrilled to be able to celebrate Chita’s milestone with her!"

Rivera has worked with many of the greatest musical theatre collaborators, including Leonard Bernstein, Lynn Ahrens, Gower Champion, Cy Coleman, Jerry Bock, Fred Ebb, Dorothy Fields, Stephen Flaherty, Bob Fosse, Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Herman, John Kander, Rob Marshall, Terrence McNally, Hal Prince, Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, Charles Strouse and more.

Rivera is a two-time Tony Award winner for The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman. She most recently appeared in the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Her numerous Broadway credits include Call Me Madam, West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, Jerry's Girls, Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven, Nine and Mr. Wonderful. Her autobiographical show The Dancer's Life played Broadway in 2005, and last season she appeared in a one-night-only Actors Fund presentation of the John Kander-Fred Ebb-Terrence McNally musical The Visit.

Rivera received The Kennedy Center Honor in 2002, making her the first Hispanic ever to receive the award. She also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.