Review: ‘Bernadette Peters’ at Wolf Trap

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There’s something special about outdoor summer concerts: the light breeze, the chirping crickets, the enjoyment of good music in summer. But when you have all that and the performer is Broadway legend Bernadette Peters, you know you’re in for a special treat. And tonight’s concert was indeed a special treat: her voice in fine shape, Peters sang some of her signature songs as well as some new favorites, absolutely delighting the audience.

Bernadette Peters is best known for her theater career, having won three Tony Awards and originated numerous roles, including leads in Gypsy, Into the Woods, and Sunday in the Park with George. She also has starred in many TV shows and films, including The Jerk, and can currently be seen in CBS’ The Good Fight and in Amazon’s Golden Globe-winning series Mozart in the Jungle.

Peters is also an advocate of animal rights, having co-founded the charity Broadway Barks with Mary Tyler Moore.

The show opened with an overture of Broadway songs by the Wolf Trap Orchestra and then segued into Peters singing the appropriate “Let Me Entertain You”, with such verve and enthusiasm that it really set the tone for the rest of the night. She sang a hilariously saucy version of “There is Nothing Like a Dame” and a tongue-in-cheek cover of “Fever” (sung on top of the piano!) that kept the audience in stitches.

Peters is one of those special performers who, while an excellent singer with a distinctive and lovely voice, is better described as an actress who sings. When she sang the standards “Send in the Clowns” and “Losing My Mind,” she wasn’t Bernadette Peters giving a concert (despite the lovely tenor of her voice), but she was each of those characters, experiencing that heartbreak and despair and conveying that movingly to the audience. Or becoming the wistful ingénue while singing “It Might as Well Be Spring” with such a warm and clear voice.

Bernadette Peters. Photo courtesy of Judy Katz Public Relations.

In addition to the Sondheim signature songs that she’s known for (including a gorgeously vibrant “Being Alive”), Peters sang a lovely medley of “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” that was both sweet and hopeful. Her final song was one she had written herself, “Kramer’s Song” (Kramer being her beloved dog), a lullaby that accompanied a children’s book she wrote to support her charity Broadway Barks. It was the perfect ending to the night, as she said a lovely, warm goodbye to the audience.

There’s always a bit of wistfulness when seeing a Broadway legend give a concert, wishing that one could see them actually play some of their iconic roles. But when seeing Bernadette Peters, there is none of that wistfulness. When she performs those songs from her famous roles, she throws herself into it and acts it, rather than just singing it. Tonight’s concert proved that Peters is still on the top of her game.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intemission.

Bernadette Peters performed with the Wolf Trap Orchestra on Saturday, June 3, 2017, at Wolf Trap – 1635 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. To see a list of upcoming events at Wolf Trap and to purchase tickets, go to their calendar of events.