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.
``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.
Caption: Bernadette Peters and Kramer by Geoffrey Tischman