- January 11, 2019
A Broadway legend is set to grace the stage for the Garden Theatre’s largest annual fundraising event.
The theater’s Encore 2019 celebration will feature two-time Tony Award winner and Broadway icon Chita Rivera. The annual fundraising gala will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9.
Attendees will enjoy an evening of sparkling champagne, delectable desserts and a delicious food, as well as a performance from the legend herself. In addition to singing some of her signature songs, Rivera also will share some behind-the-scenes stories from her distinguished career. Premium-seating guests will have access to a post-show party that features a meet-and-greet opportunity with Rivera.
Rivera is a singer, dancer and actor and is considered to be one of Broadway’s greatest triple-threat talents. In addition to her two Tony Awards, Rivera has earned a total of 10 Tony nominations and received the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theater. Widely known for her performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of “West Side Story” — a performance that brought her to stardom — Rivera’s illustrious career is highlighted by many other starring roles in numerous other productions like “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Rink,” “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” among others. She also was in the original Broadway casts of “Guys and Dolls,” “Can-Can” Seventh Heaven” and “Mr. Wonderful.”
“We are honored to have someone of Ms. Rivera’s caliber perform at the Garden; I think it really speaks to the organization’s growing reputation,” Garden Theatre Executive Director Nao Tsurumaki said. “Ms. Rivera, truly a national treasure, is the perfect guest to elevate this unique cultural experience for the Winter Garden community.”
Rivera won’t be the only performer to hit the stage at Encore 2019. The evening also will feature performances by four student performers: Aiden Bjortvedt, Caiti Fallon, Sarah Isola and Andre Torres.
Bjortvedt, 16, and Fallon, 15, both are sophomores at Montverde Academy. Fallon lives in Winter Garden, and Bjortvedt lives in Clermont, but his family is currently building a home in downtown Winter Garden. Both students are thespians at Montverde Academy and have been active in the Garden Theatre for a number of years — Bjordvedt for eight years and Fallon for seven. Fallon will be one of three students singing at Encore 2019, and Bjortvedt will be playing piano as an underscore for Fallon and the other two singers for their performances. They’re no strangers to the stage, and both are looking forward to sharing it with Rivera.
“I was just really excited,” Fallon said, referring to when she was invited to perform at Encore 2019. “I’m a little nervous, because Chita Rivera is going to be there, but I think I’m mostly excited. It’s just a really great opportunity. … I don’t think many 15- or 16-year-olds can say, ‘I’ve performed with Chita Rivera.’”
“I’ve always enjoyed the thrill of getting to be somebody else on stage — whether it’s through playing a character or playing through a piano piece,” Bjortvedt said. “I was pretty excited about this (performance). … I’m kind of anticipating it, but I’m also nervous.”