Courtney Act pays tribute to late stage legend Chita Rivera


Courtney Act and Chita
Composite image. Photos: ABC, Philip Romano/Creative Commons

Courtney Act has shared a beautiful tribute to late US musical theatre legend Chita Rivera, who died this week at age 91.

Chita’s daughter announced Chita had died in New York after a brief illness.

The Latin American Broadway legend’s big break was as Anita in the original 1957 production of West Side Story. Chita was also the original Velma Kelly in the 1970’s premiere of Chicago.

Over the decades, the performer was nominated for multiple Tony Awards, winning Best Actress in a Musical twice.

The nominations kept coming through the 2010s and Chita received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tonys in 2018, among many other honours.

Chita Rivera’s death this week prompted tributes from performers and theatre lovers everywhere.

‘One of the most magnificent performers’

On Instagram, Australian drag queen Courtney Act remembered Chita as “a wonderful, joyous, inspiring human being” and recalled time she’d spent with her in a lengthy post.

“One the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and one of the most magnificent performers I have ever witnessed,” Courtney wrote.

“The way Chita held a room with her electric presence was something to behold.”

Courtney Act recalled first meeting Chita Rivera on a cruise, and Courtney recalled inviting Chita to her show.

“I didn’t hear back that she was coming, but after the show, she came backstage to say hello and gave me the warmest hug and the most affirming compliments,” she said.

“We sat in the bar and drank a fancy ginger cocktail together. Each night of the cruise, we’d meet in that bar and try a different elaborate cocktail from the menu.

“At the time, she was 78 and I was on the eve of 30. I had consumed so many hours (foolishly) worrying about getting older. Seeing Chita perform and spending that time with her dissolved all of my fears.

“If that is what 78 looked like, there were only great things to look forward to.”

‘Thank you for all the joy’

Courtney Act recalled the Broadway icon, who performed on stage into her 80s, was “so generous with her time”.

“She would give me challenges as a performer. ‘Next time you do that number, you should try to stand completely still. Bring all the emotion through your voice and face, but don’t move your body,'” Courtney recalled.

“I did just what she told me. After the show, she came up to me, ‘You did it, kiddo!’

“I feel so lucky to have had so much time with her and am forever changed as a human and a performer from knowing her.

“I love you, Chita. Thank you for all the joy you have brought to this world. You left it a better place than you found it.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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