By Andrew Gans
12 Jan 2006
And, as previously reported, “America,” the show-stopping song-and-dance number from the classic musical West Side Story, will become part of Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life this coming weekend. The number will be seen during the West Side Story section in the first act of The Dancer’s Life.
Dick Van Dyke appeared on Broadway in The Girls Against the Boys; Bye, Bye Birdie; and the revival of The Music Man. He earned a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his work in Birdie. Among his numerous screen credits are “Diagnosis Murder,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Mary Poppins,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Bye Bye Birdie.” Van Dyke is also the recipient of four Emmy Awards.
Boasting a book by Terrence McNally and direction/choreography by Graciela Daniele, The Dancer's Life stars Tony Award winner Chita Rivera with Liana Ortiz as Little Chita/Lisa. The ensemble comprises Richard Amaro, Lloyd Culbreath, Malinda Farrington, Edgard Gallardo, Deirdre Goodwin, Richard Montoya, Lainie Sakakura, Alex Sanchez and Allyson Tucker. Cleve Asbury and Madeleine Kelly are swings.
Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, according to production notes, is a "tour through landmark creations in the American theatre that were helmed by some of the greatest talents in its history, including Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Fosse, Gower Champion and Michael Kidd." The production features new songs by Ragtime's Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty with numbers from West Side Story, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Among the songs heard in the production are "Dancing on the Kitchen Table," "Something to Dance About," "I'm Available," "Camille, Colette, Fifi," "Garbage," "Can-Can," "Mr. Wonderful," "A Boy Like That," "Dance at the Gym," "Somewhere," "Put on a Happy Face," "Rosie," "Don't 'Ah Ma' Me," "Big Spender," "Nowadays," "More Than You Know," "A Woman the World Has Never Seen," "Class," "Chief Cook & Bottlewasher," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Where You Are" and "All That Jazz."
The creative team for the new production includes Loy Arcenas (scenic design), Toni-Leslie James (costume design), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting design), Scott Lehrer (sound design), Mark Hummel (musical direction) and Danny Troob (orchestrations).
Writer McNally said in a statement, "Chita Rivera is our strongest link to the Golden Age of the American Musical. She worked with all the great choreographers and composers and was present at the creation of such seminal masterpieces as The Dance at the Gym from West Side Story when the talent in the room was a veritable Mount Rushmore of the American theatre: Bernstein, Sondheim, Robbins, Laurents and Prince. I hope our show reminds audiences of what that level of theatre was like and what it still can be if the talent, the technique and the passion are there. Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life looks back in order to look forward."
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, Jerry's Girls and her most recent outing, the Tony-winning revival of Nine. 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 also headlined Bernarda Alba at the Mark Taper Forum.
The seven-performance Broadway schedule is Tuesday, Thursday Saturday evenings at 8 PM, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets for Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life are priced $55-$100. The Schoenfeld Theatre is located in Manhattan at 236 West 45th Street.