Chita Rivera – Shakes It Up at 54 Below

Chita Rivera


by Sandi Durell


Is there anyone other than the legendary Chita Rivera who can cause such frenzy on a stage and with an audience? I doubt it! The Broadway icon is one hot tamale!

Bedecked in red sparkling pants outfit, and looking fabulous, she weaves you into a web from which no one wants to escape with “Kiss of the Spider Woman” with moves and grooves that continue throughout the evening from Latin rhythms to Jazz to Broadway favorites.

The songs travel a long winding road in her iconic musical career and highlight a Chita mantra “A Lot of Livin’ To Do” (Bye Bye Birdie, Charles Strouse/Lee Adams) that is irresistible in its delivery. The West Side Story medley “A Boy Like That/America” (Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim) is an ultimate crowd pleaser.

Chita’s a great story teller, bringing each song into focus; some reminiscent of one-act plays! Take “Camille, Collette, Fifi” (Seventh Heaven, Stella Unger/Victor Young) – a show she did alongside Ricardo Montalban in which she played Fifi (yes, a street lady) – here doing all three roles to great audience delight. Her version of Jacques Brel’s “Carousel” is probably the most electrifying I’ve heard in its pure, sometimes childlike, exploration as it resolves into feverish excitement. And the shear dramatic emotion unveiled in “Where Am I Going” (Sweet Charity, Cy Coleman/Dorothy Fields) exemplifies another great Chita moment.

Sharing career highlights and many tales, especially of her relationship and friendship with John Kander and Fred Ebb result in the wonderful nostalgia of hearing “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer,” in which she starred alongside Liza Minnelli (The Rink); the poignant “I Don’t Remember You” (The Happy Time); and the haunting “Winter/Love and Love Alone” (The Visit) with beautiful remembrances of Roger Rees.

The grand finale was just that . . . as the audience couldn’t get enough of Kander & Ebb’s Chicago songs; “Nowadays” and “All That Jazz,” Chita bestowing her all to her loving fans, the standing ovation, hoots and shouts more than deserving.

And what about that band! Michael Croiter (Musical Director, Percussion,Guitar), Gary Adler (Associate Musical Director, Piano) and Jim Donica on Bass. Top of the line!!

Don’t miss Chita Rivera whose performance will live inside you for a long, long time. She is at the historic 54 Below nightclub (with a delicious food menu) through March 22, all shows at 7 pm. I cannot stress enough the unbelievable excitement and exhilaration you’ll derive from seeing this legend perform.

Photos: Bonnie Tandy Leblang

Opening Nite Post Show – Sandi Durell, Chita Rivera


www.Feinstein/s/ 254 West 54 Street (cellar) NYC 646 476-3551