Chita Rivera’s fiery performance of the role Anita in the original Broadway cast of West Side Story made her a star. In a television interview in the mid-1960s, Rivera said much of the excitement of that legendary production was in “watching Leonard Bernstein setting down notes that would later be heard and loved by everyone, and watching Jerome Robbins suddenly come up with a masterful step that we would later become known as an integral part of the performance.”
Robbins, who conceived, choreographed, and directed West Side Story, received a Tony Award for Best Choreography, one of the two wins of the show’s six Tony nominations. The book was by Arthur Laurents, the music by Leonard Bernstein, and libretto by Stephen Sondheim, co-written by Bernstein.
As seen in Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ to Do, Rivera still wows audiences today when she performs West Side Story songs, nearly 60 years after the Broadway show’s premiere in 1957.