Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune, theater ‘lifers,’ team up for shows

JOSEPH SINNOTT

Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune will perform at the Kean Stage series at Kean University in Hillside, Sept. 16-17.

“We hope that people will come away knowing a little bit more about us,” says Chita Rivera about the shows that she and Tommy Tune will present at Kean University in Hillside, Sept. 16-17. The shows, titled “Chita & Tune,” will feature singing and dancing by the two, both together and alone, plus storytelling and reflections upon two lives spent in the world of theater.

“We’re in the midst putting it all together now, with Graciela Daniele directing,” said Rivera, in a phone interview last month. “We’re shaping it and forming it now. But we will have numbers together, and have our own numbers from shows we’ve done.

“We just hope it will be an evening of sheer entertainment, that’s all: Entertaining people, and hopefully making people feel a little better, especially since the world is as crazy as it is. And (an evening of) watching two people who dedicated their whole lives to something that they’ve been blessed enough to be able to do — and that is to work in the arts.”

Rivera, 84, who first gained fame some 60 years ago in musicals such as “West Side Story” and “Bye Bye Birdie,” says she’s not sure when she met Tune, 78, though she adds that she probably first became aware of him when he appeared in the 1969 movie version of “Hello, Dolly!”

“I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time,” she says. “He’s a wonderful artist, a great director, and a great creator of wonderful ideas for the theater.”

Over the years, they became friends, “as we all tend to be in the theater,” she said. “The theater is like one big family. ”

The tour with Tune is just one of Rivera’s recent projects. Last year, for instance, she participated in an all-star re-recording of the song, “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” as a benefit for victims of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

I also found myself writing, last year, about a talk she gave at Princeton University, and a guest-filled concert titled “Chita, Nowadays,” that she presented at Carnegie Hall.

“You wake up every morning, and — this is everybody — you never know what the day brings,” she says. “You think you’re going to go left, and sometimes you end up going right. So, I try to keep myself open for that.”

Rivera and Tune will perform at the Enlow Recital Hall at Kean University in Hillside at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16 and 3 p.m. Sept. 17, as part of the Kean Stage series. Visit keanstage.com.

They will also be a show at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, March 24; visit mayoarts.org.

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