Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ to Do

Panelist Bios

Air date: 11/06/2015

GREAT PERFORMANCES: “Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ to Do”


Panelist Bios


Chita Rivera

Singer, Dancer, Actress

A theatrical icon and one of Broadway’s greatest triple-threat talents, Chita Rivera has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and received eight additional Tony nominations, for an exceptional 10 Tony Award nominations.

She recently starred in The Visit, the final John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Graciela Daniele on Broadway (2015), following the acclaimed production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the summer of 2014.

She starred in the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Broadway and touring productions of The Dancer’s Life, a dazzling new musical celebrating her spectacular career, written by Terrence McNally and directed by Graciela Daniele, and the revival of the Broadway musical Nine with Antonio Banderas.

She trained as a ballerina (from age 11) before receiving a scholarship to the American School of Ballet from the legendary George Balanchine. Rivera’s first appearance (age 17) was as a principal dancer in Call Me Madam. Her electric performance as Anita in the Broadway premiere of West Side Story (1957) brought her stardom, which she repeated in London. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink (Tony Award), Chicago, Jerry’s Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award), and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful. On tour: Born Yesterday, The Rose Tattoo, Call Me Madam, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba, Can-Can with the Rockettes.

Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in August 2009. She received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in Washington, DC, in December 2002 and is the first Hispanic woman ever chosen to receive this award. In May 2013, she was appointed to a special Kennedy Center Honors Advisory Committee.

Rivera’s current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing. Her most treasured production is her daughter, singer/dancer/choreographer Lisa Mordente.


David Horn

Executive Producer, Great Performances

Director, Performance & Arts Programming, WNET New York Public Media

David Horn is responsible for the development, production and programming of WNET’s national performing arts presentations on PBS. He has been with the Emmy award-winning series Great Performances for 36 years. Horn has been nominated more than 25 times for a Primetime Emmy, winning five, and has twice received the prestigious Peabody Award. Most recently, he received The Drama League’s Unique Contribution to the Theater Award.

In addition to Great Performances, he was the executive producer of two landmark miniseries for PBS, Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America in 2009 and Broadway: The American Musical, which garnered the Primetime Emmy for Non-Fiction series in 2005.

In 2008, Horn was asked to focus attention on creating programs for WNET’s local market in the New York City area. He created and remains the executive producer of WNET’s Emmy-winning arts series NYC-ARTS, hosted by Philippe de Montebello and Paula Zahn. This year, he developed, produced and directed eight Off Broadway plays broadcast under the series title Theater Close-Up, hosted by Sigourney Weaver.

In the 90s, Horn created In the Spotlight, a series of primetime popular music specials, and was executive producer of Sessions at West 54th. For both series he received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, which recognizes excellence in music broadcast programming.

Since taking the helm at Great Performances, Horn has placed an emphasis on bringing Shakespeare back to the series, most recently serving as executive producer alongside Sam Mendes and Gareth Naeme for The Hollow Crown. These lavishly filmed Shakespearean history plays (Richard II, Henry IV and V) featured Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston and Ben Whishaw. A sequel, Wars of the Roses, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard the III, will broadcast in 2016. These epic miniseries join recent productions of King Lear, Cyrano de Bergerac and Hamlet, all three of which were recognized with actor nominations for Sir Ian McKellen, Kevin Kline and Sir Patrick Stewart, respectively. In October 2010, Stewart returned in the Peabody Award-winning Macbeth, another Shakespeare production initiated by Horn. To complement this activity, he helped develop and is the executive producer of Shakespeare Uncovered, a six-part series that aired in 2012, featuring Ethan Hawke, Jolie Richardson, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi and Trevor Nunn. A second season of the series, starring Christopher Plummer, Hugh Bonneville, Kim Cattrall, Morgan Freeman, David Harewood and Joseph Fiennes, aired in January 2015.

Horn is also a multi-camera event director with credits including Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek LIVE!, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell in Concert, La Dolce Vita: Music of Italian Cinema, Bryan Adams in Concert, Great Performances 40th Anniversary Celebration,  multiple Andrea Bocelli concerts including his Central Park event, Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Celebration at MSG, Chess in Concert, Hitman: David Foster & Friends, Martina McBride: Live in Concert, We Love Ella!: A Tribute to the First Lady of Song, South Pacific at Carnegie Hall, Michael Bublé: Caught in the Act, Josh Groban Live at the Greek, The Verdi Requiem, Copland’s America, The Rodgers & Hart Story, The Music of Kander & Ebb, Billy Joel: Shades of Grey, Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival, Vienna Philharmonic 9/11 Memorial Concertand the live telecast of American Dream: Andrea Bocelli’s Statue of Liberty Concert.

Horn has produced numerous classical music concerts from Carnegie Hall, as well as internationally in Vienna, Salzburg, Rome and Paris. In 2000, he collaborated with the New York City Opera to commission three contemporary operas under the title Central Park. He has also produced numerous regional operas, many of them world premieres, in San Francisco, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston, where he won an Emmy for John Adams’ Nixon in China.

Other producing credit highlights from previous seasons include Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy (Peabody Award); two iterations of Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival (Emmy Award); La Traviata From Paris (Emmy Award); Peter, Paul, & Mary: Lifelines; Andrea Bocelli: Sacred Arias; Thomas Hampson: I Hear America Singing; Julie Andrews: Back on Broadway; Pavarotti: My World; Natalie Cole: Unforgettable, With Love (Emmy Award); Crazy for You; Some Enchanted Evening: Celebrating Oscar Hammerstein II; Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall; Carnegie Hall Salutes the Jazz Masters; Spike & Co.: Do It A Cappella; Miles Ahead: The Music of Miles Davis; Black and Blue (directed by Robert Altman); Swinging Out With Harry Connick, Jr.; Linda Ronstadt’s Canciones de mi Padre (Emmy Award); James Levine: A Life in Music; and many others. From 1981 to 1983, Horn produced the series In Performance at the White House.