Concert review: Bernadette Peters at the Valley Arts Center
There are singers and there are actresses; there are entertainers and there are stars. And then, there is Bernadette Peters. On Saturday night, the nonpareil Broadway artist turned the Valley Performing Arts Center into her own personal salon, with magical results.
From first entrance in a glittering lilac gown that looked as if she'd been poured into it, the diminutive Peters held the capacity crowd in thrall. Launching a jazzy "Let Me Entertain You" with an insinuating focus toward the front row, Peters moved on to "No One Is Alone" from Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods," and her delicately inward intensity hushed the house. Thereafter, she could do no wrong.
Visually, Peters has vaulted time with decades to spare -- her physical maneuvers atop musical director Marvin Laird's piano during "Fever" were especially delicious -- and her comic skills are undiminished, as when selling "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" to the men on the aisle. Vocally, the ineluctable timbre remains essentially intact, any loss of belting power or metrical freedom trumped by a near-legit purity in her upper register and a still potent ability to locate a song's emotional content.
Acknowledging her recently ended turn in the Broadway revival of "Follies" (which is headed to L.A. minus Peters), she delivered "In Buddy's Eyes" and an astonishingly intense "Losing My Mind" with indelible character truth.
And her penultimate "Being Alive" and exquisitely intimate "Goodbye for Now" conveyed the axiomatic, one-on-one communication with an audience that defines a great dramatic chanteuse, and that certainly describes Bernadette Peters.
-- David C. Nichols
Photo: A 2005 photo of Bernadette Peters. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times