I’ve only seen Bernadette Peters perform on film, and that has certainly whetted my appetite to see more of this amazing performer on stage.
When I was teaching theatre to my eighth grade students, I would show them a scene with Bernadette Peters from Sunday in the Park with George, the scene in which George paints Dot while she’s stuck standing in the unmerciful sun. I love watching that scene and sitting in awe of how she creates the intense heat and discomfort through actions. It’s not there, but you can practically see the sweat dripping down Dot’s face. Amazing.
Another genius performance is her role as Marie in the second act of Sunday in the Park with George in which you completely buy that she is this aging woman, achieved so thrillingly once again through what must have been detailed study of elderly people and analysis of their actions.
Not only does she get the physicality down, but she creates such rich characters in her work. In addition to her amazing work in Sunday in the Park with George, I’m so thankful to have seen her on the video of Into the Woods in which she is so delightfully wicked as the witch.
Other than that, I’ve mostly been exposed to Peters’ stage work through recordings and Tony performances. I love her performance on the CDs of Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy. Having two Tony performances from those shows are highlights of my video clips collection.
Plus, there’s the musical film work of hers I’ve loved—in Annie and in the Disney television Cinderella, plus singing one of Ahrens and Flaherty’s wonderful songs in Anastasia. We’re very fortunate that, as film musicals start ramping up, there is someone out there with a film name available for parts that can not only pull it off but excel in every way.
I hope to someday see Bernadette Peters perform in a show in person. With such an impressive scope of film credits, Peters is nothing short of a living legend of the theatre, a true triple threat who can not only open a show but carry it on her ever-talented shoulders.
the Broadway Mouth
September 5, 2007