The star of this week's Dance Party is going to need some of that aspirin.
|Chita Rivera turned 80 this week, on a two-show day. Her cast surprised her with cake at the curtain call.|
|Rivera has turned her current supporting|
role in Edwin Drood into a star part.
The old gal is still kicking, though perhaps not as high, as she is finishing up a limited run in the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Expect her 10th Tony nomination to be announced later this spring.
Chita is on my radar this week for another reason, in addition to her birthday. She was the star attraction at one of the myriad inaugural events which peppered the DC landscape last weekend.
|Don't recognize this dude? He played the geeky|
foreigner with the indeterminable accent on
That 70s Show, now all hunky and grown up.
The event was a celebration of President Obama's contributions to the American Latino community, and was held at the Kennedy Center. The Big Guy did not attend (though VP Joe Biden did), but that did not damper the enthusiasm of the Latino stars who took the stage. Eva Longoria both hosted and produced the affair, which included appearances by Jose Feliciano, Broadway's Raul Esparza, and singer Marc Anthony.
|Mario Lopez also appeared at the event.|
He was quite presentable in his tux.
But why hire Mario Lopez for a gig
which requires him to be fully clothed?
The centerpiece of the show, in my humble opinion, was the duet performed by those duelling Anitas, Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno. Everybody knows, of course, that Chita created the role of firecracker Anita in West Side Story, only to lose the role to Rita for the film. Rita won the Oscar and went on to a pretty illustrious career which included a Tony, Emmy, and Grammy.
|Our Chita received the Kennedy Center Honor|
in 2002, along with James Earl Jones,
Paul Simon, and Elizabeth Taylor. In 2009, she
also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom,
along with Sandra Day O'Connor,
Stephen Hawking, and Harvey Milk.
Our Chita remained, for the most part, on stage, creating many memorable roles and winning several Tonys.
|The announcer of last week's event proclaimed that it was the first time Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera had ever performed together. Not so. They helped Bette Midler open the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health in November of 2002.|
Neither of the old broads moved all that much, and Rita in particular was croaking her notes, but nobody cared.
|There was a supposed rivalry between Chita and Rita throughout their careers, but I never found any evidence of it. These Latina Grande Dames were the hit of their inaugural party.|