ShareThis Page
Peters brings depth of talent to Heinz Hall |

Peters brings depth of talent to Heinz Hall

Mark Kanny
| Wednesday, March 18, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Those who saw Bernadette Peters’ sizzling performance during the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s gala in September 2007 won’t be surprised she’s back to star at the Pops.

Peters has won many Tony and Drama Desk awards for her theater work and also has had success in films and television. Yet she’s anything but blase. “It was a great honor to be part of that gala,” she says. “It was terrific. I was thrilled to be asked back for four performances.”

Peters, conductor Marvin Laird and the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops will perform Thursday through Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown. The first half of the concert will be devoted to symphonic pops repertoire led by resident conductor Daniel Meyer.

Laird, Peters’ longtime pianist and conductor, says of Peters, “She’s a Sondheim girl.” Her signature starring roles include Sondheim’s shows “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Into the Woods,” as well as “Gypsy,” for which Sondheim wrote the lyrics and Jule Stein the music.

In addition to Sondheim songs, Peters’ Pops repertoire will include Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” which lit up the 2007 gala concert, “Shenandoah” and “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

“It’s great doing your own show, because you get to choose what you sing,” she says.

Laird met Peters when both were in a road company performing “Gypsy.” He was assistant conductor and, of course, met all the cast.

“I noticed this one young girl, very close with her mother. During breaks, she didn’t mix much with the other girls. I heard her sing an odd phrase or two and thought, ‘God that’s a big voice out of that little girl,'” Laird recalls.

They kept in touch over the years, and when Peters booked her first solo act, she called Laird to be her collaborator.

He has written award-winning shows, such as “Ruthless!,” and conducted dozens of major productions, but considers himself fortunate to have spent so much of his career working with Peters.

“She’s one of the real deals in this business, and I’ve been in it since I was 18,” says Laird, 70. “Bernadette is one of the most truly generous, completely winning persons I’ve ever been with.”

The advantage of their long association is that Peters, 61, and Laird have learned to breathe together musically, he says. “That builds the trust you place in your fellow artist. No matter where you decide to go, that person will be there for you. It’s a unique and extremely rewarding relationship that’s possible only because she’s the genuine article.”

Laird says Peters sometimes spends a year or two working on a song. “She wants to not just master it but put it into a very deep place in her style, where she feels she has something to offer.

“We have material in our show we’ve been performing for 20 years, but because she wants to make it a new experience, she has in her actress persona a facility for going to a considerably different place each time she does a song. She uses whatever technique actors use to get to a volatile place.”

Additional Information:

‘The Legendary Bernadette Peters’

With: Pittsburgh Symphony Pops and Bernadette Peters, soloist

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Admission: $20-$79

Where: Heinz Hall, Downtown

Details: 412-392-4900

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.