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THE RHTYHM OF MY LIFE

Tony Award winner Chita Rivera will celebrate signature moments from her career in a unique concert at The Colonial

CHITA RIVERA (red) 1 PHOTO BY LAURA MARIE DUNCAN.jpg

Chita Rivera is one of the most nominated performers in Tony Award history having earned 10 nominations. She's won twice and received the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

PITTSFIELD — Over the course of a career spanning roughly seven decades, actor-singer-dancer Chita Rivera has been nominated for 10 Tony Awards, won two plus a Tony for lifetime achievement. She’s been awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2002. She also was named a Living Landmark in 2018 by the New York Landmark Conservancy.

But talk to Rivera about her distinguished legendary career in theater and she will tell you it’s not about the awards and honors.

“All these awards,” she said by phone from upstate New York, “I never expected that to happen.” The award that's meant most has been approval from her audiences.

Rivera will be surveying the “rhythms of (her) life," 2 p.m., Sunday, July 31, in a performance at The Colonial Theatre that was rescheduled from May 29 when Rivera tested positive for COVID.

She’ll be joined by her long-time musical trio and actor-singer George Dvorsky, with whom she’ll be doing a medley of songs from Kander and Ebb’s “The Visit,” in which she appeared at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2014.

Rivera also will be joined by more than a few of her favorite friends — Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Herman, the writing team of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams and, of course, John Kander and Fred Ebb.

Rivera describes “Rhythm of My Life” as a “compendium of many characters I’ve played in other shows” — among others, Anita in the original ”West Side Story,” Rose in “Bye Bye Birdie,” Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” Anna in “The Rink” (her fifth Tony Award nomination and first win); Spider Woman in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (for which she won her second Tony Award); and Claire Zachanassian in “The Visit” (her 10th Tony nomination).

If you detect a leaning toward the music of Kander and Ebb, it’s no accident. Rivera feels at home; perfectly comfortable with their music.

“This show is about the course my life has taken [over the years]. Rhythm is my life,” she said. “Kander and Ebb are part of that. They have been with me so many years. We’ve done so many shows together.

“They knew me so well. John has written such beautiful melodies. He’s an open book. He writes from the heart.”

Regarding Ebb, who died in 2004, “there is no one funnier,” Rivera said. “When he knows you, he writes for you and makes you funnier.”

Dvorsky, who has performed frequently at the nearby Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, N.Y. — most recently in “Urinetown" — brings with him a long list of Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional, concert and recording credits. He and Rivera first performed together 22 years ago in a production of “Anything Goes” at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.

“He was gorgeous [to work with],” Rivera said and he’s been gorgeous since. He’s been a regular guest in her solo appearances.

”He understands drama. He understands musicals. He understands sharing. He has a fabulous sense of humor and he understands energy.”

“Energy will get you out of the depths of despair,” she added after a momentary pause.

Rivera shows no signs of slowing down; of letting up on taking risks.

“I’ve got to give audiences what I’ve got; what little I have left,” she said with a laugh. “I continue living my life. I want to be brave enough to sit down when it’s time to sit down.

“I never know what life has in store for me. I’m willing to grasp whatever is in my path.”

ONSTAGE

What: “Chita – The Rhythm of My Life”

Who: Chita Rivera, with special guest George Dvorsky; and musical trio

Where: The Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield

When: 2 p.m., Sunday

Tickets: $79, $129

Reservations and information: 413-997-4444; berkshiretheatrehgroup.org

COVID protocols: Masks must be worn at all times inside the building.

Jeffrey Borak is The Eagle's theater critic. 

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