Rita Moreno has been a trailblazer for decades. She made her mark on Hollywood and our hearts by breaking down stereotypes whenever she encountered them. At 84 years old she is taking her cabaret show on the road to entertain audiences with her stories and songs. She will be performing in Olympia, Edmonds and Tacoma. Don’t miss this lovely lady. Tickets to her show this Sunday at the Broadway Center in Tacoma can be found here.
Could you tell me about the show you are bringing to the area?
It is all about me! I am 84 now so there is a lot of living. There are wonderful show business anecdotes. There are real life stories and some very funny stuff. I sing a couple of songs acapella. People really go away smiling.
It doesn’t seem like you let anything or anyone get in your way. Do you think that has affected your career?
That is the goal. Never be limited by what other people think you should be. It is easy to say now from this vantage point at 84. It was a real struggle years ago. Some of the stories are in the show. Everybody assumes that what they see right now is what you have always been and it just isn’t so. Your life is so colored, changed, twisted and sculpted by your experiences.
How does it feel to be one of maybe a dozen people that have reached EGOT status?
It feels terrific, especially in the sense that this EGOT person also happens to be Hispanic. That makes it very special. By the way, I am now a KEGOT because of the Kennedy Center Honor. You should be genuflecting (laughter).
Are there any parts out there that you really still yearn to play?
I have played a lot of them. I played Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard”. I played Maria Callas in “Master Class”. I have done three of the great roles. I also played Amanda Wingfield in “Glass Menagerie”. This can only really happen on stage. It really doesn’t happen in films unless you’re someone like Meryl Streep or Cate Blanchett both of whom deserve everything wonderful they can get.
Just as a fun flashback, what did you think when you first saw the script for “The Ritz”?
I laughed so hard. I fell off the bed. You have to understand that Terrence McNally got that character from me. Very few people know this and he rarely tells them but he saw me doing this character that had no name at the time at a party. My friend said to me “Do that funny character you do. That Puerto Rican with no talent.” I just launched into “I had a dream… a dream about you baby.” Terrence just thought it was absolutely side splitting. That is how she got her name. I had been doing her for years. She was just a character I made up. She made me laugh and still does. He decided he just had a write a part for that character. He did and I got a Tony for it. He even gave her the name.
What do you suppose Googie Gomez would be doing now if she were around?
She does a lot of events like getting booed for singing the “Star Spangled Banner” at a football game.
What other projects are you working on now?
We are redoing “One Day at a Time” for Netflix. We are redoing it with a Cuban family. Norman Lear is still at the helm. The buzz about the show is great.
“Oz” was so groundbreaking when it came out. How do you feel that HBO, Netflix and other mediums have really changed the landscape of entertainment?
In the most wonderful way! They have taken on big enterprises and in some ways weakened some of network television. One of the wonderful things about the new “One Day at a Time” is that when I saw the first script for our pilot, I thought man that is a really fat script for a half an hour show. We are going to have to cut down some of this wonderful stuff. Since it is my first Netflix show, I had forgotten completely that you get your full thirty minutes of programming. You don’t get only the twenty-one minutes like regular television shows. I sit here and just think how in the hell do you make a story in twenty-one minutes. It calls for a very specific skill. They do it and they do it very well. We are also doing the new show in front of an audience because that is what Norman likes.
Rita Moreno is performing in Olympia, Edmonds and Tacoma. Don’t miss this lovely lady. Tickets to her show this Sunday at the Broadway Center in Tacoma can be found here.