Tony Award winner graces Storrs
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Sunday, April 15, 2012 23:04
The UConn School of the Fine Arts and New England Public Radio welcomed the world-famous Tony Award-winning Bernadette Peters for a night of sweet songs in “An Evening with Bernadette Peters” at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday night.
The night began at 8 p.m. with a introduction by Jorgensen director Rodney Rock, and was quickly followed by an overture by Peters’ 30-piece orchestra. Midway through the piece, Peters entered from stage right to uproarious applause. When the song ended, Peters introduced herself and wasted no time in getting the show started in earnest, warming up the audience with a few jokes and saying how glad she was to be back at the university, with this being her second performance at UConn.
Over the course of the night, Peters sang a multitude of tunes from various Broadway performances that ranged from “Gypsy” and “Into The Woods” to “South Pacific” and “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” singing a total of 16 songs over the course of the night. The emotion in Peters’ voice was loud and intense as she strutted around on stage matching the tempo of her singing.
“I’ve been to many of Bernadette Peters’ shows before. She always has such a high level of energy in the way she performs, and tonight was no exception. She can really pump up an audience,” said Bill Prenetta, a former UConn student and former Jorgensen usher.
Delores Harvey felt the same, stating, “I’m a long-time fan, and Bernadette always delivers her performances so uniquely. Tonight was no exception. Everything was absolutely marvelous.”The night had a distinct theme to it, with the majority of the pieces having been written by Steven Sondheim. The song selection did not go over well with everyone, however. As Prenetta put it, “It could have been better if there was more of a mix in what she sang. It was a fantastic show, but variation makes it better.” Most of the songs that Peters performed were from shows that she has starred in, though some were simply ones that she enjoyed and wished to share with the audience.
Intermittently, Peters would stop to tell a joke or a story, before moving on to whatever song she intended to sing next. Midway through the performance, Peters halted the show in order to recognize and introduce certain members of the orchestra whom she felt were absolutely invaluable to the show.
Though the auditorium was filled mainly with older folk, UConn’s younger crowd did make an appearance. Amanda Higgins, a 6th-semester human development and family studies major said, “She was quirky and excitable and I loved the show. As an usher, for the most part when I work, I tend not to pay attention to the show itself. If I haven’t paid for it, I’m probably not interested. But this was different. I found myself paying close attention to everything she sang. I’d never heard her before, but it was just great,” Higgins said.
The night concluded with a song of Peters’ own composition, a soft lullaby that ended the night on a soft and gentle note. After thanking everyone for attending, Peters and the orchestra exited the stage to enormous applause.