Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Chita River: The Dancer's Life - The Paramount

Chita Rivera
The Paramount
February 28 – March 4, 2007
Tickets and Information

The life of a Broadway and film star is always quite a ride. The rise of a star dancer holds to this even more so. From dancing on the kitchen table during chaotic family dinners to performing now, touring the country in a self-titled show chronicling her life’s story, Chita Rivera has worked her way honestly and happily from her first inclination toward dance to the amazing star she is today.

Chita’s story, narrated by Rivera herself through dance, song and speech, takes the audience on a time-traveling adventure back to her childhood through her current status and performances. After performing for decades, her dancing is sharp, clean and amazingly fun to watch. Her singing follows suit. Rivera chronicles countless timeless classics of song and dance from the many shows, some well known and some not known at all, during the performance of her autobiographical show. At 74, Rivera struts the stage conveying her passion for performance as well as for all of her choreographers who helped her along her journey. Focusing her narration more often than not, on the people surrounding and supporting her, Rivera’s humility and love for all those around her, along with the collaborative work that they’ve all worked to create, is a glowing testament to the idol that is Chita Rivera.

The artistic dynamics aid in the time-traveling element of the show through stylized lighting and screen use. By using dancers silhouetted on screens surrounded by multi-colored and dimensional lighting, these set and lighting elements create an environment in which the audience easily accepts the convention of a live montage of Rivera’s past works and experiences. The lighting (Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer) stands out further in the subtle manner in which it envelops the dancers. Though a wide variety of colors, flashes, speeds and changes are used, one will hardly notice that the lights are present because of the subtle artistry and direction.

Chita Rivera.

Choreography is obviously an integral part of a production chronicling the history of Chita Rivera. However, dance without music is just stepping and music without dance is just notes. Therefore, the classic styles of Fosse and Robbins, Gennaro and many others shine as brightly as ever while supported by an incredible orchestra lead by Gordon Twist and even further supported by an outstanding violinist, Victor Costanzi.

To see a 74-year-young woman dance with as much passion and prestige as she has for the past more-than-sixty years is a sight to behold. It is a remarkable privilege to have the chance to see Chita Rivera, easily one of the biggest names in all of American Musical Theater’s history.

Review by Nigel Andrews and Rick Skyler

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