Was Chita Rivera in West Side Story

Yes, Chita Rivera not only starred in West Side Story, she originated the fiery role of Anita, forever shaping the iconic musical.


West Side Story is a beloved musical that has captured the hearts of audiences around the world since its debut on Broadway in 1957. With its iconic music, powerful storytelling, and dynamic choreography, it has become a cultural phenomenon. One of the questions that often arises is whether the legendary performer Chita Rivera was a part of the original cast of West Side Story. In this article, we will explore the role of Chita Rivera in this groundbreaking musical.

The Original Broadway Production

When West Side Story premiered on Broadway, Chita Rivera was indeed a part of the original cast. She played the role of Anita, the fiery and passionate girlfriend of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. Rivera’s portrayal of Anita was praised for its energy, charisma, and incredible dance skills. Her performance in the show helped solidify her status as a rising star in the world of musical theater.

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Chita Rivera’s Career

Chita Rivera has had a remarkable career in the world of theater, film, and television. Born in 1933, she began her professional career as a dancer and quickly gained recognition for her talent and versatility. In addition to West Side Story, Rivera has appeared in numerous other Broadway productions, including Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, and The Rink, among others.

Throughout her career, Rivera has received numerous accolades for her performances, including two Tony Awards. She is known for her powerful voice, electrifying stage presence, and impeccable dance skills. Her contributions to the world of musical theater have made her a true icon.

Chita Rivera’s Impact on West Side Story

Chita Rivera’s portrayal of Anita in West Side Story had a significant impact on the show and its legacy. Her performance brought a level of intensity and authenticity to the character that resonated with audiences. Rivera’s powerful voice and dynamic dance moves added depth and dimension to Anita, making her one of the most memorable characters in the musical.

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Furthermore, Rivera’s involvement in West Side Story helped propel her career to new heights. Her performance in the show garnered critical acclaim and opened doors for her to take on other iconic roles in the world of musical theater. It is safe to say that West Side Story played a pivotal role in shaping Rivera’s career and establishing her as one of the leading performers of her generation.

Legacy of West Side Story

West Side Story continues to be a beloved musical that has stood the test of time. Its powerful story, memorable characters, and timeless music have made it a favorite among audiences of all generations. The impact of Chita Rivera’s performance in the original production cannot be overstated. Her portrayal of Anita helped elevate the show to new heights and cemented its place in the annals of musical theater history.


Chita Rivera’s involvement in West Side Story as Anita in the original Broadway production is a testament to her talent, versatility, and impact on the world of musical theater. Her performance in the show helped solidify her status as a rising star and contributed to the lasting legacy of West Side Story. Whether you are a fan of Chita Rivera, West Side Story, or both, there is no denying the significance of her role in this iconic musical.

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