COSTA MESA, CA-Bernadette Peters can still dazzle an audience. Performing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in late January, Peters wowed the crowd at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall with an array of Broadway numbers and other musical selections she retrieved from her deep arsenal of collectives.
A lifelong fan of the multi-faceted Peters, I arrived at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts with high anticipation of seeing the red-head star for the first time live. Of course, like many people, I became a fan of Peters by watching her do her thing in films like “The Jerk,” “Annie,” and “Pink Cadillac.”
I thought she was extremely funny, quirky or out of the box, and came across the big screen with presence.
That’s not to mention her stunning, knockout beauty. But what I did not know was that she could sing as magnificently as she does. What a voice! The first time I had heard Peters sing I was simply blown away. It’s no wonder why she has been a Broadway darling for over five decades.
Her seven Tony Awards nominations can vouch for that. As I sat in my seat waiting for Peters to perform her 90-minute set, I chatted with an elderly gentleman to my left about the ambiance settings of the concert hall and why we both were attending the show.
HIs take was that Peters was an all-time favorite of his when it came to performing artists. He admitted it was his first time catching a performance inside the well-constructed concert hall and was looking forward to Peters belting out a couple of his favorite Broadway songs. The Renee and Henry Segerstrom Center Concert Hall is an amazing piece of architecture that is perfectly designed for performers like Peters to showcase their vocal skills.
The concert hall allows artists like Peters, Audra McDonald and the great opera singer Kathleen Battle (both of whom I have seen perform live) to deliver without restraint a full and authoritative sound that audiences can appreciate. Getting back to the Peters’ performance, I am a person who is absolutely tuned out to most of the ins and outs and the star-glowing world of Broadway, so I had no clue what Peters would be singing that evening.
I just came to hear Bernadette sing. Period. I looked at attending the Peters’ concert as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a living legend in person, and it didn’t matter one iota whether or not I could sing along with every word she uttered out of her mouth.
Usually, when you go or attend a musical concert, you can anticipate what songs are going to be sung. I was there that evening to enjoy the moment of seeing the international star perform. That Peters did. When she finally made her way unto the stage with a lavishly sequined light purple gown with a high split in the middle of her dress and her signature red hair, Peters made an immediate splash with the audience.
As the audience showed their appreciation with thunderous applause, I couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing the one performer I’ve always wanted to see. I felt like a little boy in a candy store for the first time. I was both excited and nervous at the same time. And I usually always keep my composure when it comes to celebrities or professional performers.
Peters is not an ordinary performer, though. She is an icon. A treasure like Peters come generationally. She performs like it as well. Peters started off her show with a couple of jokes but then went full-throttle with nothing but singing the rest of the way.
She performs like it as well. Of course, Peters did everything with a little bit of flair to it. After all, she is an entertainer. Her seductive take of Peggy Lee’s massive hit “You Give Me Fever” as she lay flirtatiously atop a grand piano was one song that got everyone’s attention. It certainly got mine.
But what Peters was able to do with that song and the others throughout her concert was show off her magnetism as a performer more than anything else. Peters was sensational in her presentation of song in front of the Orange County audience. She sang with power, clarity, authority, and added a dash of charisma in her delivery. This combination works well for Peters.
Not everyone that gets on stage and have the ability to sing to the lights go off have as much personality and effusiveness as the bubbly Peters, who have all the ingredients in place to work an audience. Some people have it. Some people do not. Peters has a whole bunch of it. That’s why she is the best at what she does.