Broadway icon Bernadette Peters will perform at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday, September 5. The immensely talented Peters, known for starring turns in shows like Dames at Sea, Into the Woods, Annie Get Your Gun, Song and Dance, Gypsy and many others, recently published the children’s book Stella and Charlie: Friends Forever, illustrated by Liz Murphy.
Peters doesn’t want to nail down a set list for the show. “Well, I feel like I come out to entertain and take people on a journey,” says Peters. “I pick songs I want to sing. I pick songs I connect to. I do Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim.” A longtime Sondheim regular, having earned Tony nominations for Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park With George, Gypsy and Follies, Peters is considered one of the great performers of his music and lyrics. Her performance as the Witch in Into the Woods was filmed and can be viewed on DVD and streaming services. Peters won the Tony for Best Actress in Song and Dance and Annie Get Your Gun.
Peters may aim to entertain, but she’s also incredibly passionate about caring for animals. Stella and Charlie: Friends Forever is her third children’s book, following Broadway Barks (named for the charity she co-founded with Mary Tyler Moore) and Stella is a Star. In Friends Forever, older dog Stella learns to get along with Charlie, the new puppy in the household. “It’s turning out to be very popular because it ended up being about sibling rivalry,” Peters says. “What happens [in the story] is my dog loses her companion [based on Peters’ late dog, Kramer] so I bring home Charlie. Stella is happy until Charlie starts playing with her toys, and she gets jealous. Then one day, Stella and Charlie go out and Stella is stung by a bee and Charlie helps her.”
The book, like Broadway Barks and Stella is a Star, is based on Peters’ own dogs and the experience she had when Kramer passed away, leaving Stella depressed and lonely. “I had to get Stella a dog,” Peters says. “She needed a dog! I found out about Charlie, who was in Texas, and I was performing in Wisconsin, so afterward we drove to Texas and took Charlie home!” Peters has been a dog lover her entire life, dating back to her childhood in Ozone Park, Queens. “I always wanted one and I begged and begged until my mother gave in,” she says. “They’re just the best. Charlie is very sensitive.” Proceeds from the book go to Broadway Barks.
Audiences may have seen Peters in the Amazon original series Mozart in the Jungle, a drama about the classical music industry. “It’s been great,” says Peters. “We’re shooting the second season now.” Peters points to a particular scene in which new director Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal) takes the orchestra to rehearse in a parking lot in Harlem as one of her favorites. In the episode, Peters’ character, who is helping fund the orchestra, has to bail everyone out of jail after they’re arrested for trespassing. “The show is written and produced by some very artistic and sensitive writers who [come up with] creative things you haven’t seen before.”
Peters hopes WHBPAC audiences will enjoy her show. “We go on a journey together,” she says. “In many ways, I try to surprise myself!”
Bernadette Peters will perform at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, on Saturday, September 5, at 8 p.m. For tickets ($150–$225), go to whbpac.org. For more information on Broadway Barks, visit broadwaybarks.com.