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Chita Rivera keeps her options open

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Broadway legend Chita Rivera tells stories from her career with host Seth Rudetsky. (Courtesy Laura Marie Duncan)

Chita Rivera shrugs off a question raised by a character in the musical “A Chorus Line” who asks her fellow dancers, “What do you do when you can’t dance anymore?”

“You have to keep yourself open for any possibility that might stir up your passion again. Who knows? You might find that you have many passions, not just one,” says the 84-year-old, two-time Tony winner, who’s been onstage for nearly seven decades.

On Saturday, she again proves there is no rest for the wickedly talented as the next guest star in Mark Cortale’s “Broadway @ The Nourse” conversation and song series with host Seth Rudetsky.

“You think that after a certain age you’ll never dance again,” Rivera continues. “Well, maybe you won’t dance like you used to but, you know, every single day brings you something else that could possibly change your life.”

Rivera started studying dance as a teen in Washington, D.C. In what sounds like a PR concoction, she confirms she went to an audition with a friend solely as moral support and wound up landing a role in the touring company of “Call Me Madam” in 1951.

She has appeared in 18 Broadway musicals – so far! – with 2015’s “The Visit” as her most recent (and Tony-nominated) credit. The creator of iconic roles in “West Side Story,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” the original “Chicago” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” Rivera was also a sought-after television variety show guest and nightclub performer and has stories about all of it.

“You have to like it. You have to want to do it,” she says of keeping up an active touring schedule. “The road is fabulous. If I had not gone on the road with my club act and stuff that John and Freddy [Kander and Ebb] wrote … I would not know that there were so many amazing, beautiful theaters across this country.”

She really means it. As soon as she finishes her series of piano-side chats with Rudetsky, she’s off again, performing with fellow legend Tommy Tune. “He is getting more and more handsome as the years go by and we both adore each other,” she says.

Her enthusiasm is genuinely infectious. “You know, there’s probably things that I don’t even know that I want to do that are out there. It’s all about life. It’s all about living. It’s all about moving. It’s all about caring. Most of all, it’s about being ready for it.”

IF YOU GO
Chita Rivera
With pianist-host Seth Rudetsky
Where: Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. April 29
Tickets: $30 to $100
Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.com/broadway

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