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Q&A with Broadway icon Bernadette Peters

Staff Writer

When Bernadette Peters returns in concert to West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center this Saturday, Dec. 14, she’s bringing Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers & Hammerstein and most of the Broadway songbook with her.

The stage and screen diva’s “An Evening with Bernadette Peters” promises to be an eclectic mix of standards and show tunes that have helped define an iconic performer and three-time Tony winner (“Song and Dance,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and 2012 honorary award for humanitarian efforts).

 After going from Broadway ingenue to star in “Mack and Mabel,” Peters went on to legend status in the shows “Sunday In The Park With George,” “Into The Woods” and “Gypsy” as well as movies such as “The Jerk,” “Pennies From Heaven” and “Annie.”

In a telephone interview from her home in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon, I caught up with her for a quick Q&A:

Rod: So what are you doing in this show?

Bernadette: “I’ll be doing ‘Follies’ and you know I started doing the song from ‘A Little Night Music,’ ‘Send in the Clowns.’ After the show closed I never did the song. It was a perfect moment in the show and I thought I’d never have that perfect moment again. But then I had to sing it for something I was doing for Steve [composer Stephen Sondheim] and I thought I’ll take all the information from the scene and take it with me to do the song. And that’s what I do. I’m doing [standards] like ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ what a pretty song that is, and ‘Mister Snow’ and ‘When You Wish Upon a Star.’ Oh, and it’s Christmastime so I’ll do some Christmas songs. Then the next day I zip across Alligator Alley to do a concert in Sarasota.”

Rod: You’re in South Florida performing a lot. What is it about a SoFlo audience?

Bernadette: “I think they appreciate a good show. And there are snowbirds who know me from New York. And I’ve done a lot of TV so there are the people who know me through that. I’m there to entertain, whether I’m being dramatic or funny. Whatever I’m doing I’m taking them on a journey and making the night very entertaining.”

Rod: You even had a house in Miami about 10 years ago. So between that and performing at Kravis, Arsht and Broward Centers over the years, you must have a favorite hangout, right?

Bernadette: “I love Gloria Estefan’s restaurant, the Cuban one [Larios on the Beach]. It’s really wonderful.”

Rod: You were hysterical on “Smash” Have you always been funny? Were you the class clown?

Bernadette: “I was funny as a kid…mostly at home. My sister thought I was funny and her friends thought so. You know, in school I was a bit shy. In school I was different. I wasn’t trying to stick out.”

Rod: I read somewhere you started in showbiz when you were only three and a half years old. Is that true? And is it also true that you changed your name from Lazzara to Peters, which you took from your father’s first name, so you wouldn’t be ethnically typecast. Is that also true?

Bernadette: “Well my mother did it. I didn’t do it. I was just a child. I would have kept it Italian and had a whole different career as a serious actor.”

Rod: I know, the dog and cat adoption initiative you started with Mary Tyler Moore is close to your heart. Is there any way your SoFlo fans can help out?

Bernadette: “It’s my passion. Well, let’s see, I’ll be selling my books and the money I make is going to animal shelters. What we really want to say to people is to please make rescue shelters your first choice. Go there first and look around. Shelters are full of beautiful animals that are homeless. They do have memory and they really do know and they will love you forever."

“An Evening with Bernadette Peters” is at 8 p.m. Saturday Dec. 14 at the Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets start at $25. To order, call 561-832-7469 or visit

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