BWW Reviews: Bernadette Peters In Concert - A Legend Interpreting a Genius
Bernadette Peters is a music theatre icon unsurpassed by many, if any. Even if you've haven't seen her craft on display, she is bound to be on an original cast recording that you have tucked away amongst your collection. Peters graced the stage of Her Majesty's theatre in Melbourne last night on the final leg of her Australian tour with an orchestra of local artists under the guidance of her legendary musical director Marvin Laird. Her familiar tone and vibrato was on display and even if her voice happened to waiver in certain moments the connection she had with her lyric far surpassed any technical hic up. As composer Stephen Sondheim's muse, Peter's has had to clearly develop her interpretation of some of the more complex melodies and lyrics in the music theatre repertoire. It is in this pocket that she sits superior to any of her peers. Her delivery of Send In The Clowns from A Little Night Music and Losing My Mind from her most recent Broadway show Follies prove to be Peter's stand out performances on this evening. The combination of piano, clarinet and voice in Send In The Clowns is as close to perfection as you could get.
In fact the night would have been enhanced if Peters solely sang Sondheim. For their artistic relationship is a match between composer and artist unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. Peters has a gift for Sondheim's writing and anything else sung in the evening's performance felt like a filler between the next Sondheim moment, ultimately climaxing in the nights third musical highlight Being Alive from Company.
While the song choices and their arrangements were predictable, the orchestrations and the lighting were real features of the evening. Unexpected Song from Song and Dance would have added a more contemporary flavour to Peter's show, which stayed quite similar in style throughout. When Peters interprets a song with a varied arrangement it doesn't stand out. You feel like you could be watching any other entertainer interpreting a song and Peters is a standout, hence the need for her to return to her strength in Sondheim which thankfully she does throughout the course of the 90 minute performance.
Bernadette Peters is quite possibly one of the worlds great musical theatre performers and her vocal quality and understanding of what she is singing about and her ability to be able to convey that is a talent and gift on display for all to see. Her concert is a masterclass in subtlety as opposed to showbiz and that is a treat for any connoisseur of music theatre.