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Tale of Two Actors

by Joal Ryan
March 5, 1999, 11:15 a.m. PT

For Bernadette Peters, it was the best of times. For Teri Hatcher, it was...well, you know the rest.

The two stars bowed this week in two high-profile stage musicals: Peters in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun; Hatcher in the national touring company production of Cabaret.

Suffice it to say, Peters got the raves, and Hatcher, um, didn't.

First up, Hatcher: TV's former Lois Lane made her musical theater debut Wednesday in Los Angeles as Sally Bowles, the desperate, bawdy cabaret singer of Cabaret.

Liza Minnelli won an Oscar for the role in 1972. Natasha Richardson won a Tony for the role last year. Look for Hatcher to break the winning streak.

"The character's lost, but so is Hatcher." (Los Angeles Times)
" completely overpowered by her backup chorus line." (Daily Variety)
Perhaps the unkindest cut of all? The Times credits Hatcher for giving it the "old junior-college try."

To be fair, the Hollywood Reporter said Hatcher delivers an "accomplished performance."

She "gives a surprisingly biting and dark performance that captures well Sally's anguish and confusion," the trade paper said.

Overall, the L.A. production--the road version of the raunched-up Cabaret revival still selling out the old Studio 54 on Broadway--got strong reviews. Variety, in fact, said the show succeeded in spite of its marquee name.

Hatcher, 33, was dinged for a lack of stage presence, a lack of stage movement and a lack of stage voice.

But other than that...

Think of Bernadette Peters, meanwhile, as something of the anti-Teri Hatcher.

The veteran star of stage and The Jerk has the New York critics in heavy gush mode.

"So vibrant, so commanding, and so funny." (New York Daily News)
"Real star power." (Associated Press)
"Never less than terrific." (USA Today)
The acclaimed Peters, 51, is the Annie of Annie Get Your Gun, the old-school Irving Berlin musical about cowgirl Annie Oakley--the one with "There's No Business Like Show Business."
Ethel Merman made the show a hit in 1946. Peters' updated, politically correct version--costarring erstwhile Luke Duke Tom Wopat, who also won good notices--opened Thursday.

About the only naysayer was The New York Times, which declared Peters miscast in the title role. But even then, the paper said the actress "manages to give off flickers of her special brand of magic."