I always say that people are stars, or in this case, a legend, for a reason. There is an unmistakable charisma, stage presence and unique quality they possess that sets them apart. To say that Bernadette Peters is a Broadway legend somehow comes up short when you try to explain why she’s so singular. But all those intangibles were on full display at Segerstrom Concert Hall Saturday evening as Peters made a glorious stop on her latest tour. She delivered in every way you could imagine bringing her rare and utter devotion to every gorgeous note and gesture.
Peters was in impeccable voice as she moved seamlessly from the wink of her opening “Let Me Entertain You” to classic Rodgers and Hammerstein numbers, a spine-tingling “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, a flat out sexy “Fever”, sung as she slinked atop a grand piano and of course several of Sondheim’s most beautiful, “Being Alive”, “In Buddy’s Eyes” and “Children Will Listen”, sung as only she can sing them.
There was a little something for everyone and much of the concert was focused on some of her more recent Broadway appearances in Annie Get Your Gun, Follies, A Little Night Music and Hello, Dolly. What was fantastic and such a treat about the numbers she chose from these shows, is that she masterfully sets the scene, beginning by chatting about the show and before your realize it, she is the character and you are no longer watching Bernadette Peters at a concert but getting a real glimpse of Dolly Levi as she tells Horace that she’s leaving or Desiree Armfeldt singing “Send in The Clowns” to her old flame, Frederik. Peters doesn’t so much sing a song but rather lives it with every fiber of her being. To see her as Sally in Follies, even for a moment, was breathtaking. Hands down the best, most emotionally raw rendition of Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” I have ever seen.
I was quite unexpectedly moved to tears by her as Dolly Levi, pleading with her deceased husband to give her a sign that it’s okay to move on, singing “Before The Parade Passes By” in a way that made me feel I’d never heard the song before. And that is the pure magic of seeing Bernadette Peters perform live in front of you; it’s not something that can be replicated or really even explained and why you should see her in a live performance once in your life if you have the chance. They don’t make them like her anymore.
It says something about her five plus decades-long, illustrious career that one 90-minute concert barely scratches the surface of all the shows and songs she is known for. But like all great artists, she leaves you wanting more…and more and more!
For tour information visit BernadettePeters.com
For information on upcoming events at Segerstrom Concert Hall visit Segerstrom Center for The Arts.
Segerstrom Center for The Arts is an extraordinary art space complex which has recently added the stunning Concert Hall where Peters performed and is sometimes the only Southland venue to see some artists like American Ballet Theatre (Segerstrom is their West Coast base and also boasts a youth conservatory). Surrounded by rolling hills and walkways along with several fantastic restaurants and ample parking, it’s a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. I had a fabulous meal at the popular tapas restaurant, Vaca, and made a night of it.