The long-awaited and wildly entertaining memoir of the star of stage and screen, the legendary Chita Rivera—three-time Tony Award–winner, Kennedy Centers honoree, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She was born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero—until the entertainment world renamed her. But Dolores—the irreverent side of the sensual, dark and ferocious Chita—was always present center stage, and was influential in creating some of Broadway most iconic and acclaimed roles, including Anita in West Side Story‚ the part that made her a star—Rosie in Bye Bye, Birdie, Velma in Chicago, and Aurora in Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Written in gratitude to her longstanding fans and with the hope that new generations may learn from her extraordinary experience, Chita takes us behind the curtain to reveal the highs and lows of one extraordinary showbusiness career—the creative fermentation, the ego clashes, the miraculous discoveries, the exhilaration when it all went right, and the disappointment when it all went wrong. Chita invites us into workrooms and rehearsal studies, on stage and on set as she works with some of the greatest talents of the age, including Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Hal Prince, Liza Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr, Gwen Verdon, Shirley MacLaine, and many others. We also learn deeply moving, revelatory details about her upbringing and her heritage, and how they indelibly shaped her work and career.
This colorful and entertaining memoir—as vital and captivating as Chita herself—is the unforgettable and engrossing personal story of a performer who blazed her own trail and inspired countless performers to forge their own unique path to success.
In this entertaining debut, actor/dancer Rivera provides a lively backstage glimpse of her seven-decade career. As an outlet for her childhood rambunctiousness, Rivera's mother enrolled her in ballet classes. She subsequently trained at the School of American Ballet, and though she always thought of herself as "more of a dancer than a Broadway musical star," Rivera was cast as the original Anita in West Side Story in 1957, and went on to perform in numerous productions, including Bye-Bye Birdie, Chicago, Mr. Wonderful, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Visit. "I do miss that girl, full of energy, agility, optimism, and hope," Rivera reminisces, and describes her attempts to hold onto her through milestones including her three Tony wins and receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Rivera fondly recounts her memories with a touch of humor and a hint of the fire that characterizes the many roles she has portrayed on stage and screen; references to her less restrained alter ego "Dolores" (or as her daughter would say: "Mom goes Puerto Rican") are particularly charming. This deserves a standing ovation.