Broadway Goddess Bernadette Peters Opens Boston Pops Season

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Bernadette Peters in a scene from "A Little Night Music," at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York. (AP/Bryan-Brown, Inc., Joan Marcus)
Bernadette Peters in a scene from "A Little Night Music," at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York. (AP/Bryan-Brown, Inc., Joan Marcus)

Broadway superstar Bernadette Peters opens the Boston Pops season Wednesday evening.

Known for an impressive theater career that has garnered her seven Tony Award nominations and two wins, Peters will be joining conductor Keith Lockhart at Boston's Symphony Hall to perform a selection of songs-- but she won't disclose which.

"I never like to tip my hat ahead of time of what I'm going to be doing," Peters told to Here & Now's Robin Young. "I like the audience to be surprised and enjoy the evening and enjoy the journey."

Beyond Broadway

Theater lovers swoon for Bernadette Peters. And in addition to her Broadway career she has a body of work that includes 17 films, including roles in Steve Martin's "The Jerk" and Mel Brooks' "Silent Movie," Emmy-nominated performances on television as well as a recent guest role in NBC's television show "Smash." And next month at the Tony Awards, Peters will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Award for her philanthropic work with animal shelters.

But it's her singing that many adore most. The Washington Post calls her a "gifted diva" whose "voice can thrill you, envelop you and break your heart, sometimes in the space of a single song..."

Singing From An Early Age

Peters, who began singing at the age of three-and-a-half, says it was as a teenager that she began to develop the powerful connection with music that permeates her performances today.

"You know how you have all these emotions inside you that need to come out and nowhere to express them? I would just experiment with all different kinds of music, and it was where I started to go deeply into the music," she said.

Peters is known for her collaborations with musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim, and has been called the premier interpreter of his work, which includes "A Little Night Music," "Sweeney Todd" and "Into the Woods." She believes his music carries the words "because he writes both the music and the lyrics."

"They're just so intertwined, they express exactly what he wants to say so thoroughly," she said.

Although the norm on television singing competitions nowadays has been to encourage singers to sing and remain at full throttle, Peters' method is to leave a little more room for interpretation.

"If you start at 1000 percent, and you have no place to go, then definitely there's no leeway for events to happen within the song that surprised you," she said. "I like to leave leeway for all of that. What does this lyric mean, and where do I begin with it? Where do I go with it, so that there's excitement within a song because you start somewhere and then the song and what you're saying takes you to another place."


  • Bernadette Peters, musical theater and film star

This segment aired on May 9, 2012.


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