BACKSTAGE: Rita Moreno, One Career at a Time; Sweet Talk with Author Jeffrey Sweet

 Austin Hargrave photo

Austin Hargrave photo

One Career at a Time

At 85, Rita Moreno could easily look back at an extraordinary career and just cuddle with her Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards, as well as her Kennedy Center Honor and the National Arts Medal.

But the multi-talented performer is just too busy, especially with her new Netflix series produced by New Haven-born Norman Lear (also ever-active with issue-oriented entertainment at the age of 94), a reboot of his ’70s hit TV series, One Day at a Time. This go-round the show centers on a Cuban-American family in which Moreno plays the grandmother.

“It’s going to set a new standard for shows about people from other nationalities,” Moreno tells me in a recent telephone chat from her Berkeley, California, home. “It’s done with such style and grace, and it’s hilarious, though there are some tears along the way, too.”

Moreno will take a break from the series to bring her autobiographical show — think of it as a theatrical memoir covering her 70-plus-year career — to the Ridgefield Playhouse Feb. 18.

“It’s a personal kind of show because it speaks a lot about my life,” she says. “There’s some Broadway songs, I do some songs in Spanish and I tell lots of wonderful anecdotes about my life and career, which I’m astonished at myself because it’s a very tough business.”

But when things weren’t going well in the movies, she says, she got a gig on TV, “and when I was out of a job there, there was work on stage. I always kept working.”