Musical Director: Marvin Laird
Reviewer: Taylor Simmons
The stage is set; a simple white backdrop, vibrant colourful lighting, the occasional projection, and 11 musicians. This evening is about the music.
Before even a note is played, the atmosphere is electric. Bernadette Peters’ Broadway reputation from over 50 years in the business has preceded her and created an environment fit for Broadway royalty. One step on the stage and the auditorium erupted into rapturous applause and cheering, so loud you have to strain hard to hear her first words. ‘Let me entertain you. Let me make you smile.’
Reminiscent of Jessica Rabbit, Peters knows how to seduce her audience. Dressed in a full-length lilac sequinned cocktail dress with a split up the centre, a style she has established as her own, Peters looks every bit the star that she is. At 68 years of age, it would have been understandable if Peters’ keeps to low-key songs with little movement – but not here. Not unlike Bette Midler, Peters’ exudes energy and works the stage and audience to its full potential.
Her song choices are on the whole fairly predictable, though this is not necessarily a bad thing. Much of Peters’ career has revolved around Stephen Sondheim’s music, so much so that it would have been wrong not to focus on much of his material. A masterclass in acting through song, every fibre of Peters’ body ripples with emotion as she feels every word that she sings. From Losing My Mindto Send in the Clowns, Peters evokes a vulnerability that can be felt along the spine even if you are at the back of the room. Her reworking of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Nothing Like A Dame,is pure brilliance – Peters knows how to put her mark on a song and takes her audience from tears to laughter almost instantaneously. The ultimate song, of course, isBeing Alive – with two standing ovations.
It would be wrong not to draw attention to the 11 musicians. Played with great care, emotion and finesse, the music is exquisite – each musician is showcased perfectly by the musical director, Marvin Laird. It is wonderful to see a performer respect and demand applause individually for each of the musicians and also to highlight their tremendous skills in carefully chosen sections within the songs. It is clear to see why Peters has continued to work with Marvin Laird throughout her career – he is clearly an incredibly skilled performer, musician and MD.
At only 90 minutes with no interval, it falls short of a full-length concert – but that doesn’t matter. With over 50 years of stage experience, Peters holds every member of the audience in the palm of her hand from start to finish. It is such a shame that the tour is so short. Hopefully, we will be able to lure Bernadette Peters back to the UK for a West-End run – Into The Woods revival anyone?
Reviewed on 5 June, 2016 | Photo: Contributed