BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
The great musical star Chita Rivera watched two of her biggest stage triumphs -- West Side Story and Bye Bye Birdie -- return to Broadway last year. West Side is still running strong, but Rivera wasn't sorry to say bye-bye to Birdie, which was skewered by New York critics and closed after only four months.
``Kids do Bye Bye Birdie in high school and they do great shows. How are you going to kill Bye Bye Birdie? Well, I'm not going to finish the sentence,'' Rivera says.
Rivera has to be ``very careful'' when she sees one of her old shows in revival: ``You have to say that was then. Either you're disappointed or pissed. I try not to get pissed.''
``The new show is something I did at Michael Feinstein's [New York nightclub]. It's just me telling stories and doing stuff from shows I've done through my life,'' says Rivera, who also starred in the original Broadway productions of Chicago, The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman (winning Tony Awards for the latter two).
``It's musical,'' she says of her Beach-bound act. ``It's movement, not dancing. Not jumping through the air with the boys. Just me and the musicians.''
``When you share moments, you make more wonderful moments.''
Rivera is disciplined and reminds young talent that stardom doesn't come easily.
``Rehearsals are for a reason. Staying with a show is for a reason,'' Rivera says. ``You don't even do the show well when you first do it. That's why I hate doing the cast album 10 days out. You haven't found out totally what that character is about. You share that discovery with the audience.''
Still, she acknowledges success often comes from being ``in the right place at the right time.''
``And with God's help, it works out,'' she adds.
Chita Rivera performs 8 p.m. Monday at Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre, 1700 Washington Ave. $30.50-$66.50. 1-800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com
Top photo: Chita Rivera portrait by Laura Marie Duncan
Second photo: West Side Story, Martha Swope
Third photo: With Liza Minnelli in The Rink, Ken Howard
Bottom photo: With Gwen Verdon in Chicago, Martha Swope