DIVA TALK: Tony Winner Bernadette Peters Chats About NJ Concerts, "Smash," "Coming Up Roses"

By Andrew Gans
05 Oct 2012

Peters in Follies.
photo by Joan Marcus

Peters, who will undoubtedly weave a spell over audiences Oct. 11 at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, NJ, and Oct. 12 at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, NJ, says the process of choosing songs for her repertoire is often a subliminal one. "You know, it's an interesting thing," Peters explains. "What happens sometimes is that — and I even talk about this on stage — if I haven't sung the song in a show or it's not from a show I was in, a song will come into my head and get stuck there and run around in there yelling, 'Sing me! Sing me!' And, sometimes it takes me years to listen until I finally do, and that's the case with 'Shenandoah.'"

The newest additions to her concert evening are her two showstoppers from her recent performance in the critically acclaimed production of Sondheim's Follies: Peters' hauntingly moving "In Buddy's Eyes" and her heartbreaking version of the torchy "Losing My Mind." "I love revisiting those songs," Peters says. "His songs are so wonderful. To have more Steve Sondheim to sing just thrills me."

Peters has also been toying with the idea of including her stunning, perhaps definitive, rendition of "Send in the Clowns," which she performed to much acclaim in the recent revival of A Little Night Music. "I think that if I set the scene before [I sing the tune], there probably is a way to do that. I haven't put my attention to it yet, but I plan on doing that." Audiences, however, can expect an eclectic evening, featuring songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, a healthy dose of Sondheim gems and even a jazz-tinged, sultry "Fever."

Would Peters, who dazzles in concert arenas around the world, ever consider playing a more intimate venue like Manhattan's newest nightspot, 54 Below?

"You know, it's funny," Peters answers. "I haven't done that in such a long time, but recently...I did a private engagement in a restaurant, for just like five tables, two or three feet away, and it was quite interesting to rethink [my repertoire] for people right there. And, I kind of liked it... I did what I usually do, and it worked, which was interesting.... I did an arc, though, that I liked, about 55 minutes I suppose."