Last weekend Bernadette Peters was in town to perform for one night. Well, not really in town. She was in St. Charles at Lindenwood University's J. Scheiddegger Center for the Arts. This was my first visit to this facility, and I was impressed.
I've seen Bernadette Peters in concert a few times and she was, as usual, highly entertaining. Wearing a signature slinky gown, backed by a full orchestra, she strutted onto the stage to perform Let Me Entertain You, a song from the musical Gypsy, which she starred in a few years ago on Broadway. That wasn't one of the songs she sang in that show but it was the type of song that Peters loves to sell. She followed that up with No One is Alone from Into the Woods, another show she starred in on Broadway and another song she didn't perform in the original production. From there she went on to There is Nothing Like a Dame, from Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. This number is usually performed by a chorus of men dressed as sailors but Peters vamped it in high style.
The nice thing about a concert is that the performer can perform Broadway Musical songs that she would be the wrong age, or sex, or even size to perform in the actual Broadway show. And Peters took advantage of that, performing Some Enchanted Evening, again from South Pacific, and Johanna from Sweeney Todd. She did When I Marry Mr. Snow from Carousel, a song she would now be far to old to perform in the show itself.
In between numbers she chatted to the audience, although I had heard much of her schtick about having a house in Florida to sell before. Although she must be in her mid-60's she looks great and can still pull off the sexy pout when singing the Peggy Lee classic, Fever, on top of a piano.
But my favorite part of the show was the two songs from Follies that she sang. These were songs she sang herself in the show a couple of years ago: In Buddy's Eyes and Am I Losing My Mind. Peters can take a lyric and deliver it in a way that makes you hear it for the first time. I would have predicted that I didn't need to hear Send in the Clowns ever again in my life, but she made it fresh.
Her high notes are not always as bell-like as they have been in the past, but she can still deliver. And she is probably the world's leading interpreter of the songs of Stephen Sondheim. One of my favorite songs that she performs is Sondheim's You Could Drive a Person Crazy.
Her final song was Sondheim's Being Alive, and she gave it her all. For an encore she performed a song that she wrote herself to support her favorite charity, Broadway Barks.
It was a wonderful evening of show tunes by a Broadway legend.