Actress, Hispanic role model Chita Rivera opening at Cafe Carlyle

NEW YORK, New York (WABC) -- Actress and Hispanic community role model Chita Rivera will open in the small, intimate room at the Carlyle Hotel.

At 84 years old, Rivera is a force of nature with more energy than most people have in their mid-40s. She is a living legend who remembers the joy in breaking new ground on Broadway and tries to bring that to every single performance.

The cafe at the Carlyle was the very place where cabaret singer and pianist Bobby Short was a mainstay for so long, and Rivera doesn't just like living her life, she's loving it.

"I still have stories to tell," she said. "I still have energy to give."

Rivera will perform from May 9 through May 20 in the intimate Carlyle Cafe.

"You are so exposed, and what you want exposed is honesty," she said.

Her career spans an astonishing seven decades, and yet, she said she still gets nervous.

"I get nervous and pray to God," she said. "I say a prayer every night: 'Please let me say the right words, let me give the complete, all the gifts you've given me dear God, let me give it back."

She was born Dolores Conchita Figueroa Del Rivero and broke barriers on Broadway in "West Side Story," becoming a role model for generations of Hispanic women.

"The Governor of Puerto Rico came to see me in San Juan," she said. "He came to see my show and said to me, 'we are very proud of you.' Six words, and that was all I needed."

In 2013, Rivera was Grand Marshal of The Puerto Rican Day Parade.

"You just figure you're very fortunate to be chosen to represent your culturem," she said. "And then you feel the responsibility as always your entire life."

She was the first Hispanic American to be recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors, and earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009. This was all the more significant for Rivera because she grew up in Washington, D.C., and used to play near the White House as a child.

"I felt, OK, I must be doing something right here, right, mom?" she said. "And the voice said, 'Yes dear.'"

The chance to talk to Rivera one on one in such a cozy room was a privilege, but the chance to watch to watch her perform at the Cafe Carlyle is even better. She said the audience becomes a part of her show.

For tickets and information, visit
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.