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For charity, Broadway legend Bernadette Peters braves the high seas

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BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Broadway legend Bernadette Peters seems the perfect choice to entertain 400 society types in an overnight arts fundraiser aboard a brand new luxury liner. Perfect, except that Peters hates the water ``like Natalie Wood,'' according to close friend and stage director Richard Jay-Alexander.

rja ``I've known Bernadette for a very long time, since '84 or '85. She grew up in Queens. She wasn't a swimmer. She wasn't going to be the next Esther Williams,'' says Jay-Alexander, pictured right, who lived a few doors from Peters when she had a home on the water in Miami Beach.

Peters will perform Friday night a few miles offshore aboard The Yachts of Seabourn's new Seabourn Odyssey. The floating fundraiser, Arts Odyssey: A Collaboration, benefits the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and its three resident companies: Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony. Cabin prices range from $5,000 to $125,000.

For Peters, this concert is a big deal. ``I don't swim and I don't go on cruises,'' she told The Miami Herald. ``They promised me they would just go out two miles and anchor. It's like being in a big hotel on the water. I get the taste of a cruise without going on one.''

Peters says her onboard performance will be scaled down from the big, brassy shows for which she is known.

``I'm actually using a lot of strings,'' she says. ``A solo violin will take the lead.''

The two-time Tony winner keeps busy. Last year, she wrote a bestselling children's book, Broadway Barks, based upon her real-life dog Kramer; a new book also featuring Kramer, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, just arrived for the holiday season; and a third book, Stella is a Star, featuring her other pet pooch comes out in 2010.

Peters, 61, will appear Monday night on Broadway for the first time since 2004, when she completed a one-year revival of Gypsy.

She'll be working at the Minskoff Theatre with lots of old friends: director Jay-Alexander; longtime musical director Marvin Laird; gown designer Bob Mackie; and Mary Tyler Moore, who'll narrate the concert's first number, in which Peters recreates the opening scene from her hit 1987 show, Into the Woods.

The evening will raise money for two of Peters' pet charities: Broadway Barks (which she and Moore founded to help support dogs and cats in animal shelters) and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Caption: Bernadette Peters and Kramer by Geoffrey Tischman

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I was invited to go on this wonderful ship by Adrienne but regretfully i will not be in town. I know it will be spectacular. Please do tell all if you go Steve or Richard Jay can give us a full detail ..xo

I would love to read her books. It will be difficult not to associate Kramer with Seinfeld's Kramer :)

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