By Laura Latzko. Photos by Andrew Eccles

Tony Award-winning actress and singer Bernadette Peters is known for her iconic voice

and look. A star of Broadway, film and TV, the actress has been performing

since she was a young child. 

Peters will visit the Chandler Center for

the Arts on March 7 to sing music by Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein,

and Jerry Herman. She’ll also throw in classics like Peggy Lee’s “Fever” and

“When You Wish Upon a Star.” 

Peters has appeared on stage in shows such

as Annie Get Your Gun, On the Town, Mack and Mabel, Into

the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, Gypsy, and Follies.

As a TV and film actress, she has appeared

in Annie, The Jerk, The Longest Yard, Smash, Pennies

from Heaven, Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty. She was also the

voice of Rita, the stray gray and white cat, on Animaniacs

Peters has

released solo albums and singles throughout her career and has written New

York Times bestselling children’s books. 

Her work has earned her Tony and Drama Desk

awards and nominations, as well as Grammy Award nominations. 

In 1998, she and fellow actress and friend

Mary Tyler Moore founded Broadway Barks, an organization dedicated to helping

rescued dogs find homes. 

Recently, Peters played Dolly Gallagher

Levi in the musical Hello Dolly! and appeared on the TV shows Mozart

in the Jungle, The Good Fight, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and Katy

Keene. 

Throughout her career, she has shown

herself to be a triple threat as a singer, dancer and actress.

Over the years, she has noticed the most

growth in herself as an actress. She said TV and movie roles have helped her to

hone her skills.

Playing different types of characters has

allowed her to continue to keep developing as a performer.

“My career is about how much can I learn?

How much better can I get? What can I learn? How can I grow?” Peters said.

When working with composers such as Stephen

Sondheim, she has found that it isn’t hard to immerse herself in the roles.

Style: "AE_PEOPLE"

“If you really just follow what he’s

writing and why he’s writing it for the character, it makes so much sense.

Certain shows like Sunday in the Park with George, where there were

certain songs that are different time-wise, you have to learn the rhythms and

timing, especially for the duet with George. But otherwise, he writes a really

good character,” Peters said.

Peters said that for her, it is important

to play roles with which she has a connection.

“When you are doing a show eight times a

week, you really have to love it. That’s all you do is you involve yourself in

the show because you can’t be going out. You can’t be wrecking your voice. So,

it all has to be about the show. So, you have to choose carefully,” Peters

said.

Being a performer has meant continually

working on her craft and developing different skills.

She has worked with experts on different

aspects of performance, such as speaking with an accent.

For one role when she was younger, she had

to learn jump rope, a skill that was new to her.

Peters said it has been important for her

to keep her body in shape to be able to keep playing high-energy roles such as

Dolly Gallagher Levi. 

“If you are in a musical, you have to

really exercise your body and get your body in shape to be able to move around

and dance,” Peters said.

She was typecast more often early in her

career but has been able to forge her own path by proving herself as a

multitalented entertainer.

Peters has

resisted singing in one genre. That’s due to having an eclectic taste in music.

She likes to lend her voice to different styles.

“What I always try to do is just free my

voice so that I can emotionally get to where I want to get to. The emotion of

the song is the most important thing for me,” Peters said.

Playing challenging roles has meant the

actress has had to know how to use her voice correctly.

“You have to protect your voice, not strain

yourself while you are learning the music, not strain yourself while you’re in

the show. You have to learn how to breath. You’ve got to learn how to say the

dialogue so that you’re not straining yourself,” Peters said.

Bernadette Peters is scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 at Chandler Center for the Arts. Tickets start at $68. Visit chandlercenter.org for details.


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