“The Rita Hayworth of This Generation” Re-Imagines Birth of a Star—at The Rhino
Tina D’Elia Asserts Female Power in Hollywood
by Kelly Mou
Tina D’Elia’s solo show at The Rhino is a sure-fire hit. It’s jam-packed with Latina and LGBTQ+ characters. Her unforgettable women bravely confront the abusive cycle of female exploitation in Hollywood.
Meet real life, 50s movie star Rita Hayworth, the original femme fatale, named “The Love Goddess.” Hayworth was adored on the big screen and worshiped by millions of fans, with her sexy look and long red hair.
But underneath all that glamour, she was exploited by a cruel contract with Columbia Pictures. Year after year, she became more of a slave to greedy Hollywood tycoons.
In a silky silver blouse and chic black pants, actor and playwright Tina D’Elia, re-imagines the legacy of the beloved Rita. She whisks us back in time with thrilling flashbacks.
Each of D’Elia’s five characters are distinct, memorable, and quirky. As she seamlessly switches between characters, the story develops, in wild new ways. D’Elia’s show, at the gay Theatre Rhinoceros in The Castro, is a masterpiece that celebrates the struggle for female independence and Queer identity.
D’Elia enters as main character Carmelita, a vivacious performer who travels to Las Vegas to pursue her dreams. Carmelita wants to become The Rita Hayworth of This Generation. She gets a lot of laughs as she tries to fill a Diva’s heels.
After moving to Vegas, Carmelita falls passionately in love with Jesus, the “Transgender King of Blackjack.” But a sizzling love triangle bursts on the scene. Angel, her tough and charismatic producer, makes a sweet confession.
Carmelita’s path to stardom is accompanied by an avalanche of magical moments: She takes an elevator trip to the “Dead Star Casino,” and she finally meets her idol Rita.
Hayworth comes back to life, becoming Carmelita’s celebrity mentor. This time, Rita ends the cycle of abuse and encourages Carmelita to become “The Carmelita of This Generation—rather than repeating Rita Hayworth’s life.
Rita advises Carmelita: “You have agency. You have everything inside of you to attain your dreams. You have your own style, your own imagination, your own spark, your own voice.” It all erupts into laughter and stylish comedy.
In the words of D’Elia: “We can create a place for all to be.” What a wonderful time to live. Don’t miss a new kind of star.
“The Rita Hayworth of This Generation” by Tina D’Elia, directed by Mary Guzmán, at Theatre Rhinoceros, San Francisco. Info: TheRhino.org – to April 23, 2023.
Cast: Tina D’Elia
Banner photo: Tina D’Elia. Photos by Vince Thomas