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Bernadette Peters still spellbinding
Courtesy Firooz Zahedi
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Singer and actress Bernadette Peters brought Broadway to the Salem Civic Center on Friday night in the third and final show of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s pops season, holding a crowd of more than 2,000 patrons spellbound for an more than an hour.
Six decades of performing have not diminished the power of Peters’ haunting and distinct voice. The 65-year-old performer belted out crystalline notes from the opening “Let Me Entertain You” to the closing “Being Alive,” while still showcasing her trademark vulnerability on standards like “No One is Alone” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”
The chanteuse looked dazzling in a glittery, form-fitting lavender gown with her mane of ginger-colored pin curls cascading to her shoulders. She made use of the entire stage, striking a sweetly seductive pose on the piano for “Fever” and strolling out into the crowd while she sang the playful “There’s Nothing Like a Dame” from the musical “South Pacific.”
The Tony-Award-winning comedic actress had the audience giggling with a bawdy joke about sons sending a call girl to visit their 90-year-old father as his birthday gift.
“I am here to give you super sex,” Peters purred before revealing the father’s punchline: “I’ll take the soup.”
The 75-minute set, led by her long-time musical director Marvin Laird, including two numbers from Peters’ most recent stint on Broadway, composer Stephen Sondheim ’s 2011 production “Follies.” She followed that with two more Sondheim numbers: the powerful “Johanna” from “Sweeney Todd” and the bittersweet ballad “Send in the Clowns,” her strongest song of the night.
“Our evening is drawing to a close,” she said before her final number, to a chorus of “No!” from audience members longing for more. She didn’t make them wait long before she returned for her only encore, “Kramer’s Song,” a lullaby she said she wrote on a plane as an accompanying CD to her best-selling children’s book.
Conductor David Stewart Wiley and the RSO got the crowd warmed up with a lively version of “76 Trombones,” followed by a tribute to the late composer Marvin Hamlisch and closing the 20-minute opening set with a toe-tapping rendition of the classic “Sing Sing Sing.”
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