Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Defining an artist vs. a performer

I make no secret of the fact that I idolize Ms. Bernadette Peters. I have seen her live and on TV numerous times, and am ever impressed with how she embodies the songs she chooses to sing. There is always something going on inside her that makes each song seem like only she has sung it, and only she has plumbed the depths that the song has.

Some may call her the consummate "performer", but I call her an "artist". And I read a quote from her in the NY Times that exactly illustrates why. The question was whether she had any regrets for 2004. And she responded:

"It was exhausting, but I wish we had kept doing the show ["Gypsy" on Broadway]. We could have gone deeper."

I saw this show last year, and Peters blew me away. Yes, she had vocal issues, especially early in the show. Who cares? I'm not a fan of "Gypsy", particularly, or of that role, and I thought Peters brought so many new layers to it. She made the show seem fresh and new, and her "Rose's Turn" was revelatory. She got a standing ovation at the end of the number, and it was well-deserved. IMHO, of course. You can read my original review of the show here.

My point is that after over a year in the show, she was still looking for more.

Non-performers (and even some performers) wonder how people get through such long runs. I've never been in a run that long, and certainly when I've been in shows where the people were a drag, and the show was a drag, and the venue was a drag...then even one weekend can seem like an eternity. But if you're in a great show, with a great role, with a great cast...it really can seem like each performance is a new one; each moment is a fresh one.

Sigh. Maybe I need to do a show.

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