Even when she should be relaxing, Chita Rivera just can’t.
Currently starring in the ensemble musical The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, the two-time Tony Award-winning singer, dancer and actress spends some time backstage during the show in her dressing room — and she isn’t used to it.
“I play solitaire. I read. I’m thinking of doing needlepoint,” she says with a big laugh. “In my DNA, I’m a dancer and we don’t sit still. It’s just a different formula. I’m loving it. But it’s different.”
Early next year she hits 80, but Rivera — still sexy, still vibrant, always funny — hates thinking about it and refuses to acknowledge the number. This is a woman, after all, who clambered back on stage to dance in 1988 after being in an almost fatal car accident two years earlier that crushed her right leg and required 12 screws to fix.
Even Superstorm Sandy couldn’t stop her. She rode out the storm in her upstate New York home near Nyack with her dogs and her daughter, choreographer and singer Lisa Mordente. They had no power for 11 days and stood in line for gas.
“It was so cold and terribly dark. We tried it for a few days. And I moved around from bedroom to bedroom to see if heat really does rise and how long it stays,” she says. “The lesson I got from this is: generator.”
As for the big birthday Jan. 23?
“Age just seems, to me, ridiculous, because I’m blessed. I’m lucky. I’m doing what I love to do. I still can. And I have the sense to know what I can’t do and what I should do.”