Ahead of her show at Dr. Phillips Center, Bernadette Peters discusses her 60-plus-year career in show business

Bernadette Peters
Bernadette Peters Photo courtesy of Dr. Phillips Center

Two-time Tony-winning actress Bernadette Peters brings her acclaimed concert An Evening With Bernadette Peters to the Dr. Phillips Center on April 21. The legendary star of stage and screen spoke to Orlando Weekly ahead of her visit to discuss her 60-plus-year career in show business, including ...

Performing with the Muppets

"I loved being on The Muppet Show because they are so real. The Muppets become like real people. I sang to Robin, Kermit's nephew, and they had to remind me, 'Please don't kiss the Muppet,' because it's hard to get the lipstick off. I don't even look down [at the puppeteer], I'm always looking at the puppet."

Creating the Witch in Into the Woods

"In rehearsal, our choreographer said, 'Why don't I tie you up?' So every morning he tied me up with ropes, and it was great because I was all hunched over and trying to move. And that was like a week or two, and finally he said, 'OK, now you got it. We don't have to tie you up anymore, you can just do it.'

"The director James Lapine said, 'She is the voice of reason,' and so I couldn't really play it for jokes ... then when I got to come back and do it for PBS, that was fun. Because when you've got a role under your belt, you can really play with it. Then I really found some great humor without being 'yukk-y.'

"We had a 29-year reunion with the original cast out in L.A. and at BAM in Brooklyn. That was great, because now I've lived 29 years more, and I know the role really well. To come back to a role after that many years and do it is really a joy. I think that's what's happening now to Glenn Close [in Sunset Boulevard], because she's come back after all those years ... it's really a great privilege to be able to do that."

Singing Sondheim's scores

"You have to really know it, learn it, and make sure you sing it correctly, if it's a little left-turn note. He writes for emotion, he writes for character, which actually makes it easier, if you understand what the character is going through at that moment.

"When we went back and did the 20-year reunion of Sunday in the Park With George, I had to go back and learn some of those songs again, especially with Mandy [Patinkin] when he's painting and I'm powdering. There's some funny little notes in there, so you can't take it for granted. ... You have to learn what he wrote, then you have to learn why he wrote it."

Reinventing Gypsy's Mama Rose on Broadway

"June Havoc was alive then, and she said, 'If you'd like to come talk to me, I will tell you all about my mother,' and she had never offered that to anyone else before. She said it was because I looked more like her mother than anyone who's ever played it. Her mother was not big and tough, she was a small, strawberry-blonde mankiller. So that became very enticing to me, and she was so kind to do that. She was quite a brilliant person, and that gave me a lot of courage in how to play the role."

Movie-to-Broadway adaptations

"I think it's great because all the theaters are full, and you're getting people who say, 'I love that movie, I'm going to go see the show.' You get more fans of live theater, and that's what's important. As long as you have people who come, you have the ability to write whatever you want."

Reviving Gin on the Will & Grace reunion?

"Wouldn't that be funny for the sister to come back? I don't know, but it sure would be fun. I haven't heard anything ... I'm pretty busy. Maybe after the summer, eventually I can sneak one in."

What to expect from An Evening With Bernadette Peters

"I know my job is to entertain. That can be funny, dramatic; the show has a nice arc to it, and hopefully they will leave feeling satisfied. There are songs that I love to revisit when I do my show, with sentiments that are important, like 'No One Is Alone' and 'Children Will Listen.' What's great about this kind of work is that there's no fourth wall. It's just them and me under one roof."

Scroll to read more Arts Stories + Interviews articles


Join Orlando Weekly Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.