I spent last night with Broadway star Bernadette Peters in concert. I saw her a few years ago at the Sydney Opera House and remember being a little disappointed. I put it down to the dodgy acoustics. When she came out and started with "Let me Entertain You" from the musical Gypsy, I wondered if it wasn't the hall that was the problem last time.
Before the show I struck up a conversation with a woman whose table I was sharing while I had a cup of coffee. She didn't really know who Bernadette Peters is and had won her ticket on the radio. I told her that she's 67 years old as the woman looked at her program. The woman told me that she hadn't looked as good as Bernadette when she was 25! I considered her now and believed this to be true.
Ms Peters looked fantastic wearing a spaghetti-strapped, soft lilac gown with just the right amount of sparkle and a split in the front of the skirt coupled with satin heels. She shimmied around the stage and wasn't always on the microphone.
Hamming it up during one of the best versions of "Fever" I've ever heard, the diva slinked her way up the stairs to lie on a black velvet pillow and strike a shapely drape on top of the piano, she sang the song with lust and wit accompanied by double bass and drums. Yes! This was great performance.
Charming conversation interspersed the evening. "Joanna" from Sweeney Todd started with a cracked note, but improved from there. I started to get a bit twitchy and then I realised what the problem was. Bernadette Peters is much more an actress who sings, than a singer who acts. She is at her best when there's an emotional or comic element to the song. Listening to her sing is not enough and will be a disappointing experience. If you can absorb yourself in the emotion of the performance, then the experience is sublime. Losing my Mind from Stephen Sondeheim's Follies was extraordinarily emotional and like watching someone have a break down driven by the grief of a broken relationship.
The show ended with the big Sondheim song, Being Alive from Company, full of hope (and a fluffed lyric or two).
For encore, Peter Allen's song "I Honestly Love You" left me with tears overflowing. She then shared "Kramer's Song" a song she wrote as part of a children's book written for an animal shelter charity. Kramer is her dog and it was lovely.
I'd love to see Bernadette Peters in a show, rather than just in concert. It must be incredible.
Were you there at Her Majesty's Theatre last night? Have you seen Bernadette Peters? What did you think?