Last seen in London in The Kiss of the Spider Woman and part of the original London production of West Side Story, Rivera has starred in numerous films and Broadway musicals including Sweet Charity, The Rink, Zorba and Can-Can. She has won two Tony Awards for her performances.
In 1975, Rivera created the role of Velma Kelly opposite Gwen Verdon's Roxie Hart in the original Broadway production of Chicago. She joins the current London production of the musical direct from playing the Roxie role in Las Vegas.
At the same time, another American, Valarie Pettiford, will make her West End stage debut playing the role of Velma Kelly. Pettiford has been starring in the Broadway musical Fosse, due at the Prince of Wales Theatre in January, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. Her other theatre credits include Show Boat, Big Deal, Dancin' and Sophisticated Ladies.
Chicago currently stars Frederike Haas as Roxie Hart, Anna Montanaro as Velma Kelly, Michael Siberry as Billy Flynn and Peter Davison as Amos Hart. Norman Pace, of comedy duo Hale and Pace fame, makes his West End stage debut, taking over from Davison, on 9 August. Maria Friedman, who starred as Roxie Hart earlier in the year, returns to the production on 11 October 1999.
Chicago, which opened at the Adelphi on 18 November 1997, won the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production as well as the 1998 Critics Circle Drama Award for Best Musical. Productions of the musical are currently playing in New York, Las Vegas, Sydney, Utrect and Gothenberg.