Just a short review. It annoys me that critics in such publications as The Boston Globe are so rarely critical about anything, but in the case of Bernadette Peters it seems ungrateful to say anything bad about such a legend, one of the few true Broadway stars of all time. As a long-time fan I’d been looking forward to seeing Bernadette Peters in concert for some time, and although The Globe’s review of her performance last Saturday at Symphony Hall does mention that the concert was on the short side at 80 minutes, it neglects to mention the overly loud amplification and the unimaginative setlist, which was extremely similar to her performances from 10 (yes, 10) years ago (archived on two separate CDs Sondheim, Etc. and Sondheim, Etc. Etc. and on DVD), as well as some problems with pitch on a couple of the earlier songs of the evening.
Still, there’s no doubt that Bernadette is Broadway royalty, and her voice is amazingly still in prime form and sounds great. The songlist was heavy on the ballads, which she clearly excels at, highlights being “No One is Alone” from Sondheim and Lapine’s Into the Woods and the old-chestnut-given-a-vibrant-performance “Some Enchanted Evening”, as well as the entire closing section of Sondheim songs. And although her more uptempo songs often seem a bit unfocused in concert (which is puzzling considering how well she performs in shows) it would’ve been nice to have seen more variety and more risks. The two surprises of the evening, the folksong “Shenandoah” and a smoking, sultry version of “Fever”, were quite welcome, though, and the pairing of the Disney classics “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” was also a nice change of pace.
All in all, this is a case where the overly harsh critic in me can’t help being won over. But it would certainly be a dream to get to put together a setlist for her. Just imagining her take on anything ranging from Sondheim classics like “The Worst Pies in London” to more modern fare like the songs from Disney’s Enchanted is enough to make me salivate … Ha ha ha. Oh, and it was also a nice surprise that members of Boston Musica Viva provided musical support. Speaking of which, I should put their last concert of the season, featuring works by Schwantner, Gandolfi, and Schoenberg, on my calendar for May.