Bernadette Peters


A belated post to comment on the show, let's face it, of a lifetime, Bernadette Peters in concert. Who else would inspire me to travel, with the Robeau and my sister Mo in tow, to Casinorama?

My first impressions of Casinorama were well, that I'm not fond of any venue that I can actually TASTE walking in the door. The air was thick with the smell of smoke and not because people were smoking, but because they had been smoking. Smoking so much that they smelled like they had eaten a pack a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday of their lives. You know that smelly smoker that sits next to you on the streetcar? Like that, only there were literally hundreds of them. The other eerie thing being that they were all waaaaay shorter than me and wearing track suits. Ya gotta love casinos.

Once we entered the "concert hall" things only got weirder. It sort of felt like they had moved an outdoor stadium indoors and added a healthy dose of the chairs from the 21 tables in the next room. Once the lights were down though, and that familiar cry of "Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Bernadette Peeeeeeeeeeters!" was uttered, all of our surroundings melted away.

Miss Peters entered, wearing (read: poured into) the gown (Bob Mackie designed, I think) that she wore through the first act of her now famous concert at Carnegie Hall, in support of Gay Men's Health Crisis. The dress which was described in the Carnegie Hall Concert's recording liner notes as looking like "spun glass". She looked magnificent, and sounded even better.

She sang all the songs that she is now legendary for, like "Time Heals Everything" from "Mack and Mabel", "Not a Day Goes By" from "Merrily We Roll Along" and "Children Will Listen from "Into The Woods", among others. She also sang some songs that I had never heard her interpret like "The Gentlemen is a Dope" from "Allegro" and "I'm Flying" from "Peter Pan". "I'm Flying" was particularly relavatory for me, as it has never been a song that I have paid much attention to and her rendition was so completely moving - full of joy and longing.

A real treat for our audience, Miss Peters tried a song for the first time live, "Fever", made famous of course by Peggy Lee. The tune is a natural fit for her talents - she was just as sexy and as kittenish as can be atop the piano - and it was a big hit with the crowd, sure to make it's way into her repertoire for future shows.

For her first encore, Miss Peters came on stage, put a frumpy cardigan over her dress, changed from her strappy sandals into a pair of sensible black pumps and literally became Mamma Rose. There was so much anger, regret and loss tied up in her performance of "Rose's Turn" from "Gypsy" that I felt as if I had held my breath through the whole number. It is impossible to describe the power of that performance. Pro that she is, we were told that she "wouldn't send us home on that note" and she closed with a second encore, the beautiful Irving Berlin lullaby from "White Christmas", "Count your Blessings Instead of Sheep". While it was hard to stifle my giggles after an over enthused fellow theatre geek in the balcony screamed "IRVING BERLIN!!!!!!" like he was at a rock concert, I managed to contain myself and felt soothed by her calm, delicate rendition of the lovely song.

Bernadette Peters was joined by her longtime music director Marvin Laird, who was sublime as ever. I could not have asked for more from this show. I only hope that Miss Peters does not wait another 16 years before returning to the Toronto area. Although, if she does, I'm sure that she won't have aged a bit....

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