Let’s see now . . . the show she first performed on Broadway was the original “Guys and Dolls” with lots of famous guys and dolls. Then she was in “Can-Can” with some broad named Gwen Verdon; then in a 44 performance flop called “Seventh Heaven” with someone unknown named Beatrice Arthur; then “Mr. Wonderful” with Sammy Davis Jr.; then Eartha Kitt’s standby in “Shinbone Alley”; then something called “West Side Story”, then “Bye Bye Birdie”; then a short bump in “Bajour”; then to that hit called “Chicago”. The original production of “Chicago” was a bit over 40 years ago, and our star was a bit over 40 herself when she played the irrepressible Velma Kelly. Her name? Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero, bnetter known as Chita Rivera, who probably has more performances on Broadway than anyone, has released her last Original Broadway Cast Album: “The Visit” (Broadway Records).
Just think of the first time you heard the phrase, “Original Broadway Cast Album.” Yes, it was always capitalized. Regardless of your age, if you’ve gotten this far, the phrase rings magic for you. Perhaps it’s a show you’ve seen, that you can re-experience again and again with a platter, a tape, a disc, an MP-3 player . . . something to bring back the joy of seeing a show. Or listening to a new show over and over and over again, so that when you finally see it, you’re already an old friend with the music and lyrics. Or it’s a show that closed before you got a chance to see it, a way to at least hear it, a trick to jump backwards in time to hear Channing, Lansbury, Merman, Minnelli and, maybe most of all, Chita Rivera. Her last Original Broadway Cast Album? “The Visit”. Buy it.
Remember: A boy like that/He’ll kill your brother or I’ll be more Espanol than Abby Lane or Whatever happened to class? or The apple doesn’t fall . . . or any number of the million and millions of moments Chita Rivera has given to us over the past 60 years she’s been a star. And on last Original Broadway Cast Album, one last chance to grab memories. “The Visit”. Buy it.
“The Visit” is “a story of love and revenge, the buying and selling of justice, prostitution, vengeance, cold logic, forgiveness and romantic love”, or so Wikipedia tells us. It’s also about the genius of John Kander, the late Fred Ebb, Chita Rivera, the late Roger Rees, about old and new love, what a Broadway musical can give you, and why memories are important. “The Visit”. Buy it.