DIVA TALK: Bernadette Q&A/ Betty Comes Online

DIVA TALK: Bernadette Q&A/ Betty Comes Online Hello diva lovers! A lot of news this week as we head into the weekend...
Bernadette

Bernadette

(Photo by Photo Credit: Timothy White)

Hello diva lovers! A lot of news this week as we head into the weekend...

BERNADETTE PETERS

I recently had the pleasure to speak with that Tony-winning Song & Dance gal, just a few days after her new album, I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, was released on Angel Records. Peters, who possesses one of the greatest voices in musical theatre history, applies her rich sound
to an eclectic group of songs, including works by Stephen Sondheim, Lyle Lovett, Comden and Green, Leonard Bernstein, the Beatles and many others.

Playbill On-Line: How did you go about choosing songs for your new album?
Bernadette Peters: They really. . . most of them came into my heads songs that I thought would be great to record. Some songs, like "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," Steve Murphy, the president of the company he thought of that. "Cupid" was one that Jay Landers came to me with, and Tony McAnany and I came up with the rest.

PBOL: One of my favorite tracks is the Billy Joel song ["He's Got a Way"]. Whose idea was it to switch the gender on the song?
BP: That also was Steve Murphy's idea, doing it that way, and we decided to do it just with Tony McAnany on piano.

PBOL: How do you think your singing has changed over the years?
BP: Actually, on the album I did learn to sing...it's a bit different than Broadway. I think your ear gets accustomed you're in a different place you're singing for the listener rather on Broadway where it's visual and vocal, it's big. PBOL: Who do you enjoy listening to?
BP: I love listening to Lyle Lovett. He has a new album out. He's such a talented writer and singer. He has a very soulful. . . I'm listening to a lot of things. I listen to Bonnie Raitt. I love Sting and...

PBOL: Will you be adding any of the songs on your album to your nightclub act?
BP: I plan to. I do "Faithless Love" and "No One Is Alone" and "Woman Be Wise." I'd like to start adding some more. I'd have to bring in my own rhythm section if I do that.

PBOL: Have you ever thought of bringing your concerts to Broadway?
BP: Yeah, I'd like to. I would like to do that.

PBOL: Now, you just did a workshop of The Skin of Our Teeth? How was that experience?
BP: It was a lot of fun. I've never worked with John Kander and Fred Ebb very sweet and very talented. It's funny how I'd missed [working with] them all these years. I love Fred's lyrics they're fun and he's fun. I enjoyed it a lot. I thought the music was really good.

PBOL: Any chance of the show getting to Broadway?
BP: I don't know. I think it needs a little more work, but there is a lot there really very touching.

PBOL: What are your performing plans?
BP: I have my concerts there are a lot of balls in the air. I've been concentrating on getting married and the wedding. So now it's time to figure out where I should go.

PBOL: You're singing at the Hollywood Bowl soon. Is your approach to performing any different when you sing at such a large venue?
BP: The great thing about the Hollywood Bowl I was there the other day is the seats come right up to the stage. They didn't used to. Years ago I did a benefit there, and there were mountains and pools. You were very far away from the first row, but now you can be right up next to them and that's the key. I've played large places before maybe not that large but I think it's going to be really wonderful, and it's lovely being outside.

PBOL: Have you ever thought about recording your concert for video sale?
BP: Yes, you're right . . . it's time for me to start thinking about this again, but I'd love to.

PBOL: You have such a large following and so many fans--why do you think it's been so long between solo albums?
BP: Music went through so many changes right after my last solo album. Everything went into disco and then the Madonna phase I don't know what you'd call it young people's music and then it got where anything goes, which is great. It got to the point where you can do anything. People would come to me with theme albums all twenties songs or all forties songs and that didn't interest me. It has to come from a vision, a real creative place because otherwise you're trying to fit into a theme rather than who you are.

PBOL: How did you decide on the first track? I thought that was a really interesting way to start.
BP: I always thought that would be so beautiful a great way to open the album and close the album. I've always loved albums that have a beginning, a middle and an end. And if you think about it, you're going to put it on, and you're going to listen to it. I don't like things that are haphazard. I like it to have. . . you start off and you go.

Questions from PBOL readers (Thank you all for submitting questions. I tried to ask BP as many as I could; although I received a lot of the queries after the interview):
1: Will you be in the new season of "Animaniacs"?
BP: I don't think so, although I did [a voice] the other day. It was a cartoon. It wasn't Rita, but it was another cat so I might be on one or two.

2: What attracted you to the role of Dot in Sunday in the Park with George?
BP: I always wanted to work with Stephen Sondheim. It was James Lapine's idea actually to have me, and then I loved James and the project, a great experience.

3: Have you been approached about any of the Encores! series at City Center?
BP: Yes. The timing wasn't right, but I don't know, maybe in the future.

4: Have you seen Rent? What did you think about the show?
BP: I saw it downtown. I love that it's a big hit because it brings things into the mainstream that should be there.

5: Who are some of your favorite singers?
BP: Lyle Lovett. Frank Sinatra. Mary Chapin Carpenter. I love the way she writes. I love Roberta Flack's voice. Once I put her on, I can't take her off. I love Barbara Cook's voice.

6: Have you ever thought of going into Sunset Boulevard?
BP: No, but I bet Betty is brilliant. I haven't seen her, but I would love to.

Continued...

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