Broadway legend to open concert series in Fort Lauderdale – Sun Sentinel


By Broadway standards, the format is a little looser — something closer to improv than stage musical.

That’s how it goes with the Broadway Concert Series that has been playing The Parker since 2014 (when the event was known as WinterStage and the venue was called Parker Playhouse).

The names changed, but the performances always include a Great White Way star in a casual, irreverent conversation with showtune savant and SiriusXM radio luminary Seth Rudetsky. And then, when the conversation touches upon a musical number that intrigues Rudetsky, the two dash over to a grand piano and knock out a career-making hit or two before heading back to the confab.

Chita Rivera will open the Broadway Concert Series at The Parker in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, Jan. 29. Rivera is a two-time Tony Award winner who originated the iconic Broadway roles of Anita in "West Side Story," Rosie in "Bye Bye Birdie" and Velma in "Chicago."

Rudetsky further explains,

“I think what makes this particular series different … is people say, ‘I’ve already seen Chita Rivera in concert.’ But my concerts are different … because of the style, there’s no set pattern,” Rudetsky says. “You know, with their usual concerts or cabaret shows, they tell the same stories. It’s their act. It’s scripted. This is like my radio show; I talk about everything. I never know. It’s not scripted and the music is not set all the time. … You’re seeing a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”

Here is the series’ schedule with comments from Rudetsky about the stars:

  • Chita Rivera (two-time Tony winner and star of “West Side Story,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Chicago,” “The Rink,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “The Visit”) is Sunday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. “The ‘West Side Story’ medley is a must for anyone who grew up in theater. I used to play it over and over again when I was a theater geek kid. And now I get to go onstage and play ‘A Boy Like That/I Have A Love’ and ‘America.’ You get to see the person who played Anita in 1957, who originated the part on Broadway. And it’s the same thing with Velma in ‘Chicago.’ And I get to be there playing the piano. There’s just nothing like seeing the person who created the role recreating it for you, right in front of you.”
Ramin Karimloo will appear in the Broadway Concert Series on Feb. 26. The actor is currently starring as Nicky Arnstein opposite Lea Michele in the hit Broadway revival of "Funny Girl" and was Tony Award nominated for his turn as Valjean in the recent Broadway revival of "Les Misérables."
  • Ramin Karimloo (currently Nicky Arnstein in “Funny Girl” with Lea Michele; also starred in “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Misérables,” “Love Never Dies,” “Anastasia”) is Sunday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. “There are two things: He’s gorgeous with the best body in the world and he’s funny, he’s hilarious. And another thing, the voice is so beautiful.”
  • Jessie Mueller (”Waitress,” “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” “The Mystery Of Edwin Drood,” “The Music Man”) is Saturday, March 18, at 8 p.m. “Everyone has seen Jessie play all these different roles, but to see the difference in those roles, with her voice, is amazing. We just did this concert in San Francisco and people couldn’t believe how every different song is a different style.”
Jessie Mueller will close out the Broadway Concert Series at The Parker on March 18. Mueller is a Tony Award winner for her starring role in "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical."

Since Chita Rivera opens the series, she agreed to an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Here are excerpts from a question-and-answer session with the Broadway legend who celebrated her 90th birthday on Monday, Jan. 23.

Q: What resonates with you most about the format of a conversation-and-then-dash-over-to-the-piano?

A: It’s so questionable. It’s a form you’re not sure what you’re going to get. It’s very impromptu and it’s very, very relaxed. And besides Seth knows what he’s talking about and he’s an interesting guy and he has a great sense of humor.

The Broadway Concert Series at The Parker has been hosted by SiriusXM radio star Seth Rudetsky, whom the New York Times dubbed “The Mayor of Broadway.”

Q: You’ve toured in South Florida a lot over the years and you’ve told me how much you love the vibrant Latin populations and the history you have with the Eden Roc and The Diplomat, but I also know you are a big baseball fan, sooooooo … do we still hold a special place in your heart now that Derek Jeter is no longer the CEO of the Miami Marlins?

A: Absolutely. I saw him on a commercial and he’s so relaxed. Too relaxed. I do miss him in the Yankees. Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter.

Q: Speaking of South Florida, there are many performers here — from not only Latin American countries, but Caribbean countries — who really identify with you and would hang on every word if you were to offer guidance or inspiration. What would you say to them?

A: Just being a human being, you don’t know what’s going to happen from minute to minute. You have to believe in yourself, believe in your feeling about things, your upbringing. And everything is going to be spontaneous. You just have to believe in yourself and you’ve got to have a sense of humor, because a sense of humor can get you in and out of trouble. Also, you have to be proud of yourself, whatever you are. And you have to surround yourself with people that you can learn from. You are a work in progress … to the very last breath you take you are learning. What else can I say?

Q: What can you tell the reader about your upcoming autobiography “Chita: A Memoir”?

A: It’s part of my life and my experiences. I hope to take the reader into the experiences I’ve been having so they can experience it also. I’ve had a wonderful life with many wonderful things that have happened to me. … If I can share some joy and the experiences, I want to do that. If a young dancer is questioning anything about themselves, I want them to be able to pick up this book and say, “If she can do it, I can do it.”

Q: Would you ever bring your new show, “Chita Rivera: The Rhythm of My Life” to SoFlo?

A: Sure, yeah, I want to work up until the last minute, until I can’t work anymore because, as I said before, you’re constantly learning and you’re constantly changing. I don’t do as much dancing as I did, but experience gives me so many other things that I can replace that with, other things that I have learned. It’s a two-way street. It’s a conversation with an entire audience and you’re sharing your experiences. As long as I have something to offer, I’ll give it.

Chita Rivera is the first Latina and Latino-American to receive a Kennedy Center Honor. The Broadway legend - who celebrated her 90th birthday on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023 - will open the Broadway Concert Series at The Parker in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, Jan. 29.

WHAT: The Broadway Concert Series with Chita Rivera and Seth Rudetsky

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29

WHERE: The Parker, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale

COST: All the shows are $39-$69 each, with VIP tickets available for $125. You may also buy tickets for all three shows at one time and save 20% (call 954-468-3280).

INFORMATION: 954-462-0222;; and

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