Profile: Rita Moreno

rita-webThe legendary, award-winning entertainer performs on three puget sound stages this fall

The whip-smart, spunky 84-year-old is as funny and approachable as your favorite longtime friend. Full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm, Rita Moreno has recently embarked on a triad of new projects: a role as the matriarch on the revamped One Day at a Time, a new album produced by music industry genius Emilio Estefan, and—her favorite—a resurgence of her unique variety cabaret show.

Here are a few excerpts from our telephone interview with the multifaceted performer:

What are you working on now, and why did you choose that as your next step?
First, the current project is a show for Netflix produced by Norman Lear, a reboot of One Day at a Time, except that it’s been reset with a Cuban American family. I play the grandmother— the show will air in January if we are picked up. We also tape it in front of a live audience, and they’re terrific.

Why I chose it? My God, Norman Lear! Are you kidding me? I have always wanted to work with him—and being that I’m 84 and he’s 93, I don’t think this chance is going to come up again!

You also just released an album?
I have an all-Spanish album, Una Vez Más, produced by Emilio Estefan—I am truly grateful for all of these opportunities, and I’m thrilled to be a part of them.

The cabaret shows seem to be a particularly beloved project of yours. Why?
It’s hard to describe my act because it’s a mix of performances. I talk a lot about my life and tell very funny anecdotes. I do all kinds of things. I sing in different styles—it’s all kinds of Broadway. But it’s not at all improvised—I do rehearse, there is a set schedule. And I work with three wonderful musicians during the show.

What’s your secret to a long life, and a happy one, as you’re clearly having?
My secret? I have a feeling—I really believe that happiness makes you a very healthy person. I wake up humming! I think that has something to do with all of the energy I have. It’s also not thinking negatively—when you feel good about yourself, you feel healthy and happy. Genetics are very important, but just being so grateful for everything, I think, makes me all that much more healthy and energetic.

HOLLY SMITH PETERSON

For additional information:
ritamoreno.com

Upcoming cabaret show performances

Thursday, Oct. 13, 7:30pm
The Washington Center for the Performing Arts
512 Washington St SE, Olympia
360.753.8585
washingtoncenter.org

Saturday, Oct. 15, 7:30pm
Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 Fourth Ave N, Edmonds
425.275.9595
edmondscenterforthearts.org

Sunday, Oct. 16, 3pm
Pantages Theater
901 Broadway, Tacoma
253.591.5890
broadwaycenter.org