The two Broadway legends will receive lifetime achievement awards

By David Canfield
April 23, 2018 at 01:28 PM EDT
Maarten de Boer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; J. Countess/Getty Images

Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber have been named the recipients of the 2018 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The honor, recently awarded to Marshall W. Mason and James Earl Jones, marks one of the highest honors for the theatrical arts. “The cultural impact that Chita and Andrew have had on the international theatre community and on theatre education, has been immeasurable,” Heather Hitchens, President & CEO of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, said in a joint statement. “They are groundbreakers, they are inspirations and we are truly honored to recognize these two incredible legends with the Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement.”

Rivera won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a musical for The Rink, and is also known for her nominated performances in the original Broadway productions of Bye Bye BirdieChicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. She is the first Hispanic woman to receive a Kennedy Center Honor and, in 2009, was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. She rose to stardom after her lauded performance in the original Broadway production in West Side Story.

“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,” Rivera said. “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.”

Webber is among the most influential and decorated musical theatre composers of his generation. He’s most famous for composing EvitaCats, Sunset Boulevard, and The Phantom of the Opera; he’s also received a knighthood and a peerage from Queen Elizabeth II for services to music. Webber has won an Oscar, three Grammys, and six Tonys.

“I am completely overwhelmed as a Brit to be honored 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,” Webber added.

Nominations for the Tony Awards will be announced May 1 before they’re broadcast on CBS on June 10.

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