Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com

(Update: Check out this East Bay Express review by Rachel Swan for a great description of this show.)

A couple days ago, I got the chance to see Rita Moreno at Berkeley Rep. She’s performing in a show about her life, starting with her arrival in the U.S. from Puerto Rico and moving quickly to the more fascinating stories of her life in Hollywood and on Broadway.

The feel of the show is sort of like one of those interviews by the Commonwealth Club that’s recorded for public radio, except without the interviewer or the Linda Hunt introduction — but with a live band, two fabulous back-up dancers, and movie clips.

That’s right, dancers. Not only does Ms. Moreno give us the dish on things like dating Marlon Brando (and the surprising way she made him jealous) and getting typecast as the “utility ethnic” until a Life magazine story gave her a chance at stardom, but she also breaks into song and dance several times over the course of the evening. And yes, Gen Xers, there’s a clip of her and Morgan Freeman on “The Electric Company,” so feel free to wear your ironic T-shirt.

If all the theater bloggers who participated in the whole “what is theater?” thing a while back were to attend this show, I’m sure it would start the debate all over. Is this show theater, or is it more of a stand-up act? A cabaret show?

Who knows? It’s certainly charming, and it’s a chance to see and hear a living legend. When you get the chance to see a legend doing almost anything, you go.

(Disclosure: I was comp’d to this show. Photo caption: Legendary actress Rita Moreno performs with Salvatore Vassallo (left) and Ray Garcia during dress rehearsal for the world premiere of Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup at Berkeley Rep.)