Great press everywhere for the now-in-previews-I-can’t-wait-to-see-it production of Stephen Sondheim‘s Follies that began life at the Kennedy Center this spring and is now in residence at the Marriott Marquis Theatre on Broadway.

In an interview with this production’s Sally, Bernadette Peters, in the August 14, 2011 edition of New York Magazine, we meet a professional who is serious and playful, sometimes in equal measure, sometimes more serious than her sweet visage might suggest. We read of a professional who started singing with a serious adult voice before the age of five. Person and image bring another event to mind.

Bernadette Peters back stage at the Marriott Marquis, August 2011. Photo by Pari Dukovic.
Judy Garland back stage at Carnegie Hall, April 23, 1961. Crop of original by Milton Greene.

The image by Pari Dukovic that heads this article (artist in her makeup mirror, an artist prepares) haunts me, and leads me this morning to an image taken by Milton Greene in another New York City performance hall dressing room — Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961.

Fifty years separate the images (and I take the liberty of cropping Mr. Greene’s image here for my own aesthetic entertainment). One is drawn to the similarities. First the beauty. Then the focus. Then the awareness of the performance history (starting in young childhood, continuing to great acclaim into adulthood) of each performer. And the sense that we are viewing some intensely private moments of public preparation — with permission. Quite stunning.

© Martha Wade Steketee (August 15, 2011)

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