Hollywood icon Rita Moreno is ready to ham it up. This December, she’ll take on the role of narrator for a collaborative performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with the Las Vegas Philharmonic at the Smith Center. The 84-year-old actress and singer—one of only 12 people to achieve coveted EGOT status by winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award—is in good company as the voice of the holiday classic. David Bowie, Patrick Stewart, and Dame Edna have all played the narrator, but Moreno brings her customary gusto to the part.
“I love to do things for children,” says the actress, who starred on beloved PBS kids’ show The Electric Company in the ’70s. “It’s so much fun to see those tiny little faces with huge eyes believing everything you say.”
For Peter and the Wolf, Moreno goes beyond the traditional script, encouraging audience participation and bringing the different characters to life one at a time.
“I use voices for all the characters and the children. I get on hands and knees and crawl around. The whole idea is to get very dramatic and big.”
That comes naturally for Moreno, who moved to New York from Puerto Rico as a young child and had her first Broadway part at age 13. In the decades since, she’s starred in movies like West Side Story and in TV shows like Oz, in which she played prison psychiatrist and nun Sister Pete. And Moreno isn't ready to retire just yet. She has a new show in the works, the Netflix remake of Norman Lear’s One Day at a Time, slated to premier January 6.
Before that though, Moreno’s Vegas-bound, where she’s performed many times throughout her storied career, first as a nightclub act and later in theaters and arenas, singing at the Latin Grammy Awards and taking the stage—in lace corset and leather pants, no less—at the 2014 Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala.
“Wasn’t that fun!” she shrieks over the phone from Chicago. “I loved that and I love wearing leather. I just did a lecture for a university audience and they damn near peed their pants. I was all in leather and they loved it!”