In her debut at Feinstein’s at the Regency, Chita Rivera makes it emphatically clear she hasn’t stopped dancing. Her snappy hourlong show “And Now I Sing” is prefaced with a medley of Irving Berlin’s “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy” and “I Won’t Dance” by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. A Broadway fixture for a half-century, the legendary diva belts a tune with theatrical gusto and has an actor’s gift for storytelling.
Rivera’s bountiful program includes a bow to the memory of Fred Ebb, who with composing partner John Kander created the score for one of the star’s most triumphant turns in the original 1975 production of “Chicago.” Kander and Ebb’s final collaboration was the Terrence McNally adaptation of Friedrich Durrenmatt’s “The Visit,” the score for which Rivera poignantly sampled with in “Love and Love Alone.”
Jacques Brel’s “Carousel” is a traditional cabaret showstopper, and Rivera the actor spins its dizzying journey with exquisite finesse. The late Cy Coleman also is remembered with “Here’s to Us,” a toast to all who embrace the cabaret community.
A medley with musical director Mark Hummel finds Rivera in a bit of role reversal, taking leading-man turns on “Rosie” and “Maria,” from her Broadway steppingstones “Bye Bye Birdie” and “West Side Story,” respectively. That segues into amusing musical quips from “Porgy and Bess” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Rivera slipped into the role of sultry chanteuse with the Gershwins’ “Love Is Here to Stay” and “Not Exactly Paris,” a torcher by Russell George and Michael Leonard that was a staple in the repertoire of the late Nancy La Mott. Rivera goes directly to the song’s trenchant and heartbreaking core.
Finale finds Rivera re-creating the torrid imagery of Velma Kelly in “Chicago” with “All That Jazz.” Her body language defines the steamy and sensual core of a seasoned Broadway hoofer.