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Bernadette Peters is a glorious anachronism, a tiny New Yorker with a big voice, coppery pre-Raphaelite curls, and the sort of ripe physicality that made it logical she should ignore PC and have legendary pinup artist Vargas capture her for an album cover portrait. While most of her musical peers were getting funky, getting in touch with themselves, or getting high, Peters was honing her skills as a musical actress, setting her compass by Broadway with occasional detours to Hollywood. Now Peters is acknowledged as one of the Great White Way's natural wonders, a bona fide Tony-winning musical comedy star performing here in her first full-length video concert.
Taped in London's Royal Festival Hall, this 1998 performance expands on the same song list as the 1997 Carnegie Hall debut captured in her CD Sondheim, Etc.: Bernadette Peters Live at Carnegie Hall. Like that show, the London appearance leans on Stephen Sondheim's remarkable canon, including both the shows Peters herself starred in (Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George) and those she wished she did. Indeed, her stage patter toys with the facts and fiction in her career, a refreshing wink at her own putative diva-hood. While she's clearly a thinking fan's diva, she also radiates a rare sweetness and a lush sensuality. --Sam Sutherland