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Shawn Purdy/Lindsey Brown/Alyson Ahrns/Rachael Trager

Chita Rivera & Andrew Lloyd Webber to Be Honored with the 2018 Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre

New York, New York (April 23, 2018) – The Tony Awards Administration Committee announced today that Tony Award winning actress Chita Rivera and Tony Award winning composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber will be the 2018 recipients of the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

“The cultural impact that Chita and Andrew have had on the international theatre community and on theatre education, has been immeasurable,” said Heather Hitchens, President & CEO of the American Theatre Wing and Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “They are groundbreakers, they are inspirations and we are truly honored to recognize these two incredible legends with the Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement.”

“My performing aspirations began with ballet training as a child in Washington, DC. When I came to New York and auditioned for George Balanchine, who gave me a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, I could never have imagined the amazing journey I have had in the theatre,” said Chita Rivera.  “I would not trade my life in the theatre for anything as the theatre IS life.  I am deeply honored to be recognized with the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre this year.”

“I am completely overwhelmed as a Brit to be honoured by the Broadway community at the Tonys, particularly at the time when musicals are flying higher in their spiritual home New York than they have for two generations,” said Andrew Lloyd Webber.

An accomplished and versatile actress/singer/dancer, 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 nominations. She recently starred in The Visit on Broadway and in the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Broadway and touring productions of The Dancer’s Life, and the revival of the Broadway musical Nine with Antonio Banderas.  

Ms. Rivera trained as a ballerina, from the age of 11, before receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from legendary choreographer George Balanchine. At 17-years-old Chita made her first appearance as a principal dancer in the national tour of Call Me Madam.  Her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of West Side Story 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, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba, Can-Can with The Rockettes.  

Chita was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009 and received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in 2002.  In November, 2016 she headlined at Carnegie Hall and in 2015, Great Performances aired their special Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do, a retrospective of her extraordinary life and career nationally on PBS. Her current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of some of the world’s best-known musicals including Cats, Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard.  When Sunset Boulevard joined School of Rock – The Musical, Cats and Phantom of the Opera on Broadway in February 2017 he became the only person to equal the record set in 1953 by Rodgers and Hammerstein with four shows running concurrently.   

He is currently represented on Broadway by Phantom of the Opera, which recently celebrated its historic 30th anniversary, and School of Rock. On the road, he is represented by touring productions of Love Never Dies, Phantom of the Opera and School of Rock with an upcoming national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar to launch next year.

His awards, both as composer and producer, include seven Tonys, seven Oliviers, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, the Praemium Imperiale, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre, a BASCA Fellowship, the Kennedy Center Honor and a Grammy Award.    He owns seven London theatres including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the London Palladium.    He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1992. 

He is passionate about the importance of music in education and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has become one of Britain’s leading charities supporting the arts and music.   In 2016 the Foundation funded a major new national initiative which endowed the American Theatre Wing with a $1.3 million, three-year grant to support theatre education opportunities for underserved young people and public schools across the United States. 

The American Theatre Wing’s 72nd Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, will air on the CBS Television Network on Sunday, June 10, 2018 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT) live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Tony Awards, which honors theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway, has been broadcast on CBS since 1978. The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

The official eligibility cut-off date will be Thursday, April 26, 2018, for all Broadway productions opening in the 2017-2018 season. Productions which meet all other eligibility requirements and open on or before the eligibility date are considered eligible for 2018 Tony Award nominations. 

The Nominations for the 2018 Tony Awards will be announced live, by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Katharine McPhee on Tuesday, May 1, 2018, from the New York City Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

Follow the Tony Awards on Twitter and Instagram for real-time updates on the nominees as they are announced (@TheTonyAwards). The entire announcement will also be available on TonyAwards.com after the event.

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About the Tony Awards

The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. At The Broadway League, Thomas Schumacher is Chairman and Charlotte St. Martin is President. At the American Theatre Wing, David Henry Hwang is Chair and Heather A. Hitchens is President & CEO. Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment are the Executive Producers of the 2018 Tony Awards. Mr. Weiss will also serve as Director of the 2018 Tony Awards.

Sponsors for the 2018 Tony Awards include: IBM - develops, designs, and hosts the official Tony Awards digital experience anchored by TonyAwards.com; Carnegie Mellon University – the first-ever, exclusive higher education partner; Grant Thornton LLP – official accounting services partner; City National – official bank of the Tony Awards and presenting sponsor of the Creative Arts Awards; Nordstrom - official sponsor of the Red Carpet; Sofitel New York – the official hotel of the Tony Awards; Rainbow Room - official partner of the Tony Nominee Luncheon; United Airlines – the official airline of the Tony Awards for the last 18 years and People/Entertainment Weekly – official magazine partners of the Tony Awards.

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