More than 30 years after Chita Rivera delivered a commanding rendition of the Kander-Ebb-Fosse’s musical trifecta “All That Jazz” in the 1975 Broadway hit “Chicago,” her unabashed talents continue to shine.
Proof of that can be found at the Rrazz Room this week, where Rivera’s new act, “Chita Rivera: The Secret of Life,” begins an extended run through Oct. 5.
The icon performs some of her most commanding stage numbers, from “West Side Story” and “Sweet Charity” to “Chicago” and “The Rink.”
“I enjoy being able to translate through music and lyrics, and the sweetness of getting to know the people [in the room] and them getting to know me,” Rivera says. “I like the connection, the understanding, the dialogue. It’s a very personable feeling and I love exposing myself to a certain degree.”
She’s quick to note that performing is, “what I do … I don’t really stand outside of myself and look in. I just do it.”
Rivera certainly does it well. Well enough to, in the course of four decades, land two Tony Awards (“The Rink,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman”) and international stardom, the majority of which blossomed after a head-turning rendition of Anita in Broadway’s original “West Side Story.” A string of groundbreaking musicals followed — “Chicago,” “Sweet Charity,” “Threepenny Opera” and several one-woman shows, such as “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life.”
At the end of the day, though, Rivera admits that she is constantly surprised by her success.
“But what is success?” she asks. “I am constantly working and I really don’t think of myself in those terms. But I am surprised by it. I constantly, constantly wake up and think, ‘Oh, today is the day they are going to find me out.’
“I think it’s probably very good,” she adds, “Because that way, you keep working. You keep trying harder, searching; keep yourself honest and truthful. The minute you start to sit back on whatever you call your laurels, and think you’re something special, well … that’s when it all caves in.”
As for the title of her new show, “The Secret of Life,” Rivera chuckles. “Well, in real life, I think the secret has something to do with time — enduring the passage of time. And being happy with your life.
“And not to take yourself too seriously,” she adds. “You have to have a sense of humor about yourself.”
If You Go
What: “Chita Rivera: The Secret of Life”
When: 8 p.m. today through Saturday and Tuesday through Oct. 5
Where: The Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 220 Mason St., San Francisco
Contact: (866) 468-3399 or www.therrazzroom.com