“She was gracious and a great teacher,” Blocker says. “I always wanted to do something with her again.”

Flash forward to Lyric’s 30th anniversary this year and it seemed a given to try to get Rivera for the theater’s annual fundraising event.

“We wanted to do something different – we wanted a big star – and Chita was able to work it into her schedule,” he says. “As a local company dedicated to musical theater, we are honored to be able to have her here.”

‘Chita Rivera: My Broadway’
Friday, May 7, 8 p.m.
Earl Smith Strand Theatre
117 North Park Square, Marietta, GA 30060
404-377-9948
www.atlantalyrictheatre.com

‘A Tony Evening’
with Elaine Stritch

Saturday, May 1, 7 p.m.
Loew’s Hotel Midtown
1065 Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA 30309
404-733-4618
www.alliancetheatre.org

Blocker calls Rivera a true legend.

“Her characters have stood the test of time,” he says. “When I ask folks about her, even some of the younger ones who might not know her name know her shows. She originated so many roles. She was in ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ and she was in ‘West Side Story’ and of course ‘Chicago.” She was also in ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman.’ Gay men who know musical theater have always known and loved her.”

Rivera will be performing her acclaimed “Chita Rivera: My Broadway,” which she has been taking across the country of late, featuring numbers such as “Nowadays” and “All the Jazz” from “Chicago” and “Big Spender” from “Sweet Charity.”

Ticketholders will get a chance to meet Rivera as well at the event.

Chita Rivera is not the only celebrated diva/gay icon coming to Atlanta. Tony winner Elaine Stritch will be in town this weekend in a benefit for the Alliance Theatre titled “A Tony Evening.”

Stritch will perform numbers from her recent show “Elaine Stritch Performing Sondheim: One Song at a Time.” The revue originated at New York’s Café Carlyle and was scheduled for a short run but was extended due to its popularity.

Stritch is a Broadway legend herself, perhaps best known for her role in Sondheim’s “Company,” where she belted out the immortal “Ladies Who Lunch.”

At age 85, she has been performing for decades, finally winning a Tony for her one-woman show “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” after a lifetime of lauded performances. She also won an Emmy award for a guest appearance on “30 Rock” and was seen as Jane Fonda’s mother in “Monster-in-Law.”

“A Tony Evening” is the second annual gala to benefit the Alliance and its children’s programming. Tickets are not cheap – individual tickets start at $250 – but do include cocktails, a gourmet dinner, a silent auction and the show.

 

Photo: Elaine Stritch (pictured – top) and Chita Rivera head to the Atlanta stage for two events benefiting local theaters. (Publicity photos)

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