Bernadette Peters plays a symphony president who understands the need for a creative vision as well as the need to pay for it in the Golden Globe Award-winning TV show “Mozart in the Jungle.” She also understands all too well that is also true in real life.
“You want to give the audience something fantastic and creative,” Peters says, calling from her New York home. “You want to tempt them with something. You want to open their minds. . . . But you also want to give them something they will pay to see.”
It’s tough to find that balance for any arts organization. And it’s why Peters — who has won Tonys not just for her work as an actress in “Song and Dance” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” but as a philanthropist — jumped at the chance to help the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts with a fundraiser on Oct. 22.
“I’m a believer in doing what you can, helping with whatever touches your heart,” says Peters, who launched her own charity, Broadway Barks, with Mary Tyler Moore in 1998. “The theater and the arts are so important. These theaters are bringing the arts to adults and especially children, showing them how we can all be in one space together and have an experience that will never be repeated again. As much as you love any show, it’ll be different the next time you see it because it is a different night.”
Peters says her Patchogue Theatre performance will not only raise funds for the venue, but for Broadway Barks, with $1 from each ticket going to her charity.
“Everything is important and you see many people covering many different areas. When I first visited an animal shelter and saw the dire need that they had, all these animals winding up in cages with such a high euthanasia rate, I had to do something. I don’t think we understand how much purpose companion animals can have in our lives, how much healing they can do.”
Peters is also interested in showing how much healing the arts can bring. She says she was drawn to “Mozart in the Jungle,” which recently wrapped its third season that will begin airing on Amazon in December, because of its subject matter.
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“It’s not a dark, dark show,” Peters says. “I like that, especially in these times.”
That positivity extends to her concerts, including the one she has planned for Patchogue. “I’m there to entertain,” Peters says. “I do it in a dramatic way, in a funny way, but it’s in the name of entertainment. I want people to be satisfied at the end of the evening.”
With a legendary career that has spanned stage and screen for decades, Peters certainly has plenty of crowd-pleasing material to choose from.
“Each show, I get to choose what I want to sing,” she says. “There will be a lot of Sondheim, a lot of Rodgers and Hammerstein. . . . There will be lots of songs from them that I love to sing. I just love to hear those sentiments — ‘Children Will Listen,’ ‘No One Is Alone.’ I want people to have a great experience.”
Bernie Fabig, Patchogue Theatre’s marketing manager, says Peters was at the top of the venue’s list for the annual event because of her wide-ranging appeal.
“When our Patti LuPone gala was such a success, we saw that there is a lot of interest in bringing a bit of Broadway to Long Island,” she says. “We’re constantly growing and trying to bring in bigger and bigger acts.”
Fabig says this year’s concert and gala will raise funds specifically for a new marquee for the Patchogue Theatre, adding, “It’s 15 years old and sometimes it just doesn’t work.”
The theater hopes to raise enough money to purchase a $250,000 all-LED marquee that can show pictures as well as text. “There would be so many benefits to the community,” she says, adding it could also be tied in to the state’s emergency alert system. “It would be a sign of a vibrant downtown to have a marquee with full color images.”
For her part, Peters is looking for new projects of her own. She loves working on “Mozart in the Jungle” and hopes it will continue. (“I just love the writing,” she says. “I love the subject matter and I get to work with all these brilliant actors. . . . The show starts in Venice this season.”)
Peters says she may continue her line of children’s books told from her dogs’ perspectives, adding, “My third dog hasn’t done her book yet.”
And, of course, there is always a possible return to Broadway, but it would have to be for the right project.
“It would have to be irresistible because of the schedule,” Peters says. “The commitment is so huge. I would have to love the subject matter and everything. . . . I love having time to do lots of different things. It’s fun being on a TV schedule and then jumping into concerts. It’s quite something.”
WHO Bernadette Peters
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m., Oct. 22, Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E. Main St., Patchogue
INFO $65-$175; 631-207-1313, patchoguetheatre.org
MORE Meet and greet with Peters, additional $250
This year’s Patchogue Theatre Gala will be handled differently. Instead of one single event, the gala will be held before and after the Bernadette Peters concert.
There will be a pre-concert cocktail party at Public House 49, featuring an open bar and hors d’oeuvres, and a post-concert dessert reception in the Patchogue Theatre lobby. Tickets for the gala are $65 and sold separately from the concert tickets.