Latine Artists Petition for Broadway Theatre Named for Chita Rivera | Playbill

Industry News Latine Artists Petition for Broadway Theatre Named for Chita Rivera

Eric Ulloa is leading the effort to recognize the three-time Tony honoree, who passed away January 30.

Chita Rivera Joan Marcus

The Latin theatrical community is leading a mission to rename one of the current Broadway theatres for three-time Tony honoree Chita Rivera, who passed away January 30 at the age of 91.

Eric Ulloa, who made his Broadway debut in On Your Feet!, launched the campaign on Instagram shortly following Rivera's passing, and is now taking signatures via an online petition. Among the celebrities who have shared the mission using the hashtag #ChitaRiveraTheater are Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, Alex Lacamoire, Bianca Del Rio, and Justina Machado.

During the pandemic, the major theatre owners made a pledge to rename some of the Main Stem's 41 houses to add representation for BIPOC artists. The Shuberts rechristened the Cort Theatre as the James Earl Jones in September 2022, while the Nederlanders renamed the Brooks Atkinson for screen and stage icon Lena Horne in November 2022. 

"Despite the countless contributions our community has made to the theatre, of the 41 active Broadway houses, not a single one bears the name of a Latin artist," Ulloa said in his Instagram video. "The change promised after the pandemic for a more inclusive Broadway has had a narrow focus and once again left out the Latin community in the recent renamings. But that can change right now. Chita Rivera not only defined what a Broadway artist is but was the standard bearer who lit the torch for all of us in the Latin community. Keeping her name in lights allows her legend to not only live on, but welcomes new generations to walk into one of our beloved temples bearing the name…Rivera."

Ulloa told Playbill that there are a few Shubert theatres that he believes would be a perfect fit for renaming for the late Broadway icon. "The Shuberts have a few houses that either have a name that doesn't necessarily honor anyone in particular or, in some cases—The Broadhurst— a name that was affixed over a hundred years ago. She also played The Broadhurst in Kiss of the Spider Woman, and the Ambassador is home to [the revival of] Chicago, which is synonymous with her originating Velma Kelly."

"Chita Rivera is the definition of Broadway," Ulloa added. "In her seven-decade career, she was the epitome of not only what it meant to be a theatre professional, but how to inspire future generations with kindness and always giving back."

Ulloa said he first met the triple threat backstage while performing in On Your Feet! "Then, a few years later, I had the honor of writing her dialogue for the ¡Viva Broadway!: Hear Our Voices special. The magic and honor of being a Latin writer writing for the Latina legend was not (and will never be) lost on me."

Rivera's seven-decade career included creating a long list of iconic musical theatre roles, including Anita in West Side Story, Rose in Bye Bye Birdie, Velma Kelly in Chicago, Aurora in Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Claire in The Visit, among others. Puerto Rican, Scottish, Irish, and African-American, Rivera was also a barrier-breaking trailblazer who stood out as a Latine dancer and actor in an age when the vast majority of her colleagues were white.

Rivera won Tony Awards for her performances in The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman, and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 2018. She also won two Drama Desks, the Drama League's Distinguished Performance Award, and a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Read Rivera's full Playbill obituary here.

Celebrate Broadway Legend Chita Rivera

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