Bernadette Peters…Being Alive… 

By Jamie Bullins

Bernadette Peters at The Lied Center, Saturday, February 26, 2022, 7:30 pm. 

Let me start by saying that I was privileged to have the opportunity last evening to sit with a few other people (an understatement) in Lincoln and listen to Bernadette Peters sing. I mean, Bernadette Peters. Come on. 

I must also let you know that my journey with Bernadette Peters is an obscure one. My fascination began with her roles in The Longest Yard, The Jerk, Heartbeeps (with Andy Kaufman), and even her role as Sleeping Beauty in Shelly Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre. Heck, I don’t think I knew she was a singer until I was in college. My only experience seeing her live on stage prior to last evening was Broadway’s short lived The Goodbye Girl with Martin Short in 1993.

For 80 minutes the noisy outside world was quiet. Just an oh-so familiar, soothing, warmhearted voice holding me too-close, walking me through some of the most moving and pivotal songs of the canon. What would Stephen Sondheim, whom we unfortunately lost last year, and his work have been without this voice? Vice versa, what would Bernadette Peters’ career have been without his beautiful music?

Even though she reminded us that “No One is Alone” was originally sung by Kim Crosby, last night it was hers. The sentiment was truly felt. Then there was “Children Will Listen”. And “Send in the Clowns.” She closed the set with “Being Alive.” Ugh. The exquisite agony. Too much? Maybe, I’m not sure. Tears were falling all around me, and I needed only to close my eyes to shut out the fact that there were a couple of thousand people in the room with me. I could list the songs, but there’s no need. Whew. As I told one of my students who was less familiar than they should be with her work, start listening now. Few voices have had the profound effect on the institution of the American Musical as Bernadette Peters. 

The instrumentation was, of course, top-notch. The trio she travels with, and an eight-piece orchestra of local players ran through the songlist without a hitch. Brilliant talent throughout. Who knew that her percussionist was one of the original Mouseketeers? 

I could go on and on. What could I say that hasn’t already been said? Think of Ms. Peters tomorrow on her birthday. What a career, and how fortunate that we got to see and hear her here in Lincoln. Still full of voice, she is spry and light on her feet. And sexy. It’s ok to say that: she’s heard it before. If you were there last night, you received a well-needed respite from the oft unrelenting day to day that is the world we live in. If not, I hope you found it in some other way. But you missed out. Goosebumps galore. 

The Lied is following advised protocols to protect the audience and has not hesitated during these challenging days to think of the community first. So, mask up if you want to see a show. 

Thank you, Lied Center, keep telling your stories. 

Jamie Bullins is a member of the faculty in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at UNL, since the fall of 2017. He is an Educator, Scenographer, Director, and Playwright and has been at it for almost 30 years now. 

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