NEW YORK (AP) -- Chita Rivera continues to prove that age is just a number as she gets set to appear in the last show of the current Broadway season.

Chita Rivera performs at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards June 12. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame)

The 82-year old actress stars in John Kander and Fred Ebb's "The Visit," which opens Thursday at the Lyceum Theatre.

The two-time Tony winner and Kennedy Center honoree has enjoyed a long and illustrious career onstage, including originating the role of Anita in "West Side Story" in 1957, Velma in the 1977 version of "Chicago" and the title character in "Kiss of the Spider Woman."

Rivera began dancing at 7, began working professionally at 15, and has not slowed down ever since.

"I wouldn't know what to do if I wasn't moving or telling a story to you or singing a song," she said. "That's the spirit of my life and I'm really so lucky to be able to do what I love, even at this time in my life."

But Rivera does feel people make a bigger deal about her age than they should.

"Everybody seems to think I should be crawling around like this," the actress said while making a stiff, funny face. "No it doesn't happen."

Instead, she feels age is just a state of mind.

"I think very energetic and lively and just kind of wish people wouldn't judge what you do by your age."

But Rivera says her daughter provides the best perspective about it, saying: "Shut up mom, it's a compliment."

"The Visit," based on the Swiss play by Friedrich Durrenmatt tells the story of an elderly rich woman who returns to her dilapidated hometown with a deal: kill the man who jilted her in exchange for the funds to revitalize the town. Roger Rees plays her ex-lover.

It was turned into a musical by Kander and Ebb, with the book written by Terrence McNally. Rivera last worked with all three men on the Tony-winning musical "Kiss of the Spider Woman," for which they all won Tonys.

"I've been lucky. I've had phenomenal shows written by John, Freddie, and Terrence, and at this time in my life I'm being introduced to Roger Rees, and we share the stage together."

And what does she love about this show?

"The strangeness of the play itself and what it says and what it means in today's society."


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