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Petition circulates to rename a Broadway theater after Chita Rivera

Writer and performer Eric Ulloa is spearheading the campaign.

Chita Rivera (Credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Eric Ulloa has started a petition to rename a Broadway venue for Chita Rivera. Rivera, a three-time Tony Award-honored actor, passed away in January at the age of 91.

The petition indicates that out of Broadway’s 41 theaters, none are named after a Latin artist. 

“Chita Rivera not only defined the term Broadway Legend, but was the torch bearer for the Latin Broadway community for seven decades,” the petition states. “Naming one of Broadway's theaters after her, forever keeps her legend alive and allows our community a space to (finally) call home on the Great Bright Way!”

Ulloa is a longtime champion of Broadway’s Latinx community. He recently shared his thoughts with Broadway News about the journey that Latin artists have experienced on Broadway, acknowledging past successes but also the long road ahead in terms of representation. 

The creation of Ulloa’s petition follows a swell of support he received following a Feb. 1 Instagram post in which the “On Your Feet!” alum shared his idea for a Rivera-named venue and encouraged supporters to use #ChitaRiveraTheater across social media.

Ulloa’s post received supportive comments from Linedy Genao, Javier Muñoz, Julie Benko, Wilson Cruz, Revolución Latina, Bianca del Rio, Melissa Fumero and Colin Cunliffe, among others, while Justina Machado has shared the post.

Several Broadway performers have signed the petition, as well.

“Chita Rivera personifies what the best of Broadway is,” Broadway actor Darius de Haas commented publicly on the petition. “She was the last of Broadway’s Golden Age and this would be a great way to honor her legacy and honor Broadway.”

Changing the name of a theater is at the sole discretion of its owner. Of Broadway’s 41 theaters, 25 are currently named for an individual. Included in that count are the two theaters named for two people apiece: the Nederlander Organization’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (named for married actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne) and the Gershwin Theatre (named for sibling composer-lyricist team George and Ira Gershwin).

In February, Roundabout Theatre Company changed the name of its flagship Broadway house from the American Airlines Theatre to the Todd Haimes Theatre, honoring the nonprofit organization’s longtime artistic director and CEO

In 2022, the Nederlander Organization’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre and the Shubert’s Cort Theatre were renamed to honor Tony-winning Black artists Lena Horne and James Earl Jones, respectively. These two venues were renamed as part of Black Theater United’s New Deal for Broadway, which stipulated the Shubert Organization, Nederlander Organization and Jujamcyn Theatres each have at least one of their houses named after a Black artist.

Tony- and Emmy Award-winning actor Carol Burnett recently began a similar campaign to rename the Shubert-owned Majestic Theatre after 21-time Tony-winning director and producer Harold Prince, who directed “The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest-running musical in Broadway history, which played that venue.

At the time of publication, Ulloa’s petition has garnered 966 signatures.