Tony winner Bernadette Peters will help Park City ring in the New Year
Ryan Summerlin December 27, 2013
Tony Award-winning actress and singer Bernadette Peters usually doesn’t perform on New Year’s Eve, but made an exception for Park City.
Peters will give a concert at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, Dec. 31, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
"I’m very happy to be able to perform in Park City on New Year’s Eve," Peters told The Park Record during a telephone interview from New York. "It will be a concert that will include many musical theater songs and some standards."
Works such as Leigh Harline and Ned Washington’s "When You Wish Upon a Star," from Disney’s "Pinocchio," and the piano-ridden Peggy Lee’s "Fever" will be some of the highlights of the performance.
"I don’t play the piano," Peters said wryly. "I get on the piano for that piece."
The evening will also feature Broadway classics.
"Basically, I’m up there to entertain, whether the pieces are funny or dramatic," Peters said. "That’s what I’m there for and it’s wonderful for me."
The singer said she selected songs that have touched her the most.
"I love hearing the sentiments of ‘No One’s Alone’ and ‘Children Will Listen,’" she said. "Of course, I will do ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ because these are important (ideas) to remind ourselves about. They are every-day, life-to-life settings."
Peters said it doesn’t matter who wrote the songs, but did acknowledge a lot of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein as well as Stephen Sondheim.
"A lot of them are Sondheim, and, it’s funny, because many songs I sing are by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Oscar Hammerstein was Stephen’s mentor," she said. "I also added some of the music from shows that I had just been in. I hope people will come and enjoy the show. It’s fun and will hopefully be an entertaining night."
Three years ago Peters appeared in "A Little Night Music" and decided to put "Send in the Clowns" into the her concert.
"It was perfect and I decided to just leave it there," she said.
Peters began performing in musicals when she was three.
"It became something that was more and more important and fulfilling to me as time went on," she said. "When I was a teenager, I had all those feelings and emotions and nowhere to put them. So entertaining was a great place to express myself."
Now, it’s a privilege to be able to connect with the audience, Peters said.
"Life is about connecting with people, so when I’m on stage, that (idea) is magnified because there are so many people in the audience," she said. "It’s a very nice thing to be able to do."
Not only does Peters connect with people during a live performance, she is also involved in social causes off stage.
Two of the nonprofit organizations she is involved in are Broadway Barks and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Broadway Barks, which Peters founded with her friend Mary Tyler Moore, is an annual event presented by Broadway actors that helps find homes for homeless pets.
Peters sits on the board of trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an organization where entertainers can use their talents to help individuals who have been affected by AIDS.
"We connect to help where people need the help, but also bring to attention causes that are out there that also need our help," she said. "It’s important to give our help where help is needed and I think when you’re a performer, the platform is bigger and you’re able to reach more people. Someone said being an actor is sort of fulfilling people’s dreams on stage and getting involved in these organizations is another way, I think, that also fulfills people’s dreams."
In addition to performing and her activism, Peters is also an author and songwriter.
Her children’s book "Broadway Barks," named after the former aforementioned organization, became a New York Times Best Seller, and her second book, "Stella Is a Star" was published in 2010.
Both books include CDs that feature songs she wrote.
"The opportunities just come up, but I don’t really consider myself a songwriter," Peters said. "I’m not a craftsman. The song just came to me — music and lyrics — when I was on a plane, and I just kind of left it the way it was because I liked it."
But she had reservations about showing it to anyone.
"I was so scared and thought no way this was, indeed, a song, and became this sweet little lullaby," Peters said. "I think if I was going to write something today, I would probably go over it and over it."
Throughout her career, Peters has performed an array of characters from Gelsomina in "La Strada," Hildy in "On the Town," the Witch in "Into the Woods," Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun," Sally Durant Plummer in "’Follies" and Mama Rose in "Gypsy."
"All the roles are challenging in a way, and I try to choose carefully and choose things that will be fulfilling in some way or another," she said. "’Follies’ was because it’s all about what is not being said that is important to the script.
"And to take on Mama Rose was challenging, although it was a wonderful role," Peters said. "It was so personal and ended up being one of my favorite roles."
Peters’ current projects include making a TV pilot and performing more concerts.
"We’ll see what will happen with the pilot," she said. "I will also be going to Australia in a few months, and then I will be going to London to sing at the Olivier Awards. They bring on a guest every year and they asked me to come.
"My life is a surprise a minute as is my career," Peters said with a giggle. "I really don’t plan things. They sort of come to me, because if I plan something it’s like that old adage, ‘Man plans, God laughs.’"
Tony Award-winning actress, singer and author Bernadette Peters will perform a New Year’s Eve concert on Tuesday, Dec. 31, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., at 7:30 p.m. The concert is presented by the Park City Institute. Tickets range from $40 to $165 and are available by visiting www.ecclescenter.org.