Helen Mirren Honors Chita Rivera at Roundabout Theater Gala: She Shows ‘Women That Our Light Can Be Inextinguishable’
8th March 2022

Nothing can stop Chita Rivera!

That was the message of the evening at Monday’s Roundabout Theatre Company Gala, which carried the moniker, “Paint the Town.” The celebration, held at New York City’s famous Ziegfeld Ballroom, celebrated three-time Tony recipient Chita Rivera.

Rivera, who starred in two major Broadway shows for Roundabout — 2003’s “Nine” and the 2013’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” — is best known for originating roles in “West Side Story,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Chicago” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”

The night kicked off with a cocktail hour filled with theater stars, including Jane Lynch, Tony Shaloub, Richard Kind, Betsy Wolfe, Cherry Jones and many more, who mingled and couldn’t help but chat about how nice it was to be mask-free and able to hug one another again.

Lynch, who is set to star in the upcoming production of “Funny Girl” opening next month, was greeted by both stars and execs alike, all eagerly confessing that they couldn’t wait to see the production.

After one hour, everyone descended downstairs to the ballroom — a packed room of folks ready for Rivera’s honor, a full dinner, an auction and a performance by Sara Bareilles.

Following opening remarks by Danny Burstein, artistic director and CEO of Roundabout Theater Todd Haimes took the stage and joked about the “rough two years” everyone has been through — especially when it comes to theater.

With that, he passed the mic to a video message from Lin Manuel Miranda, who went on to introduce Helen Mirren. Fresh off her SAG honor, Mirren was eager to present The Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre.

“I know this is a prestigious award because I’ve received it,” Mirren, who was given the award in 2015, said in her joke-filled presentation.

She also pointed out that Rivera has been nominated for 10 Tonys, making her the star with the most nominations — also noting that the man who has the most nominations only has eight.

Mirren shared inspiring stories about Rivera’s talent and drive — including one about her role in “Tick, Tick … Boom,” during which she was told she could stay seated. Instead, Rivera told the cast and crew she was more than happy to perform choreography.

“Even a global pandemic can’t keep Chita down,” noted Mirren. “I love you for showing women that our light can be inextinguishable, our energy unstoppable.”

Rivera was humble and kind as she accepted her award and received a standing ovation. She made quips about her “catch up” sessions with Antonio Banderas in their dressing room during “Nine,” and made sure to thank some of the most important people in her life: her brothers and sisters, her mother, her first ballet teacher and her daughter, who attended the gala by her side.

Lastly, she shared advice she gives to kids when they ask — one she strongly still believes today: “Listen to your teachers, stay in your lane and always be ready.”

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