Bernadette Peters in Gypsy(Photo © Joan Marcus)
Bernadette Peters in Gypsy
(Photo © Joan Marcus)
Bernadette Peters, star of the current Broadway revival of Gypsy, returned to the show last night for the first time after missing five performances in a row due to a reported respiratory infection. But, according to an e-mail announcement from the show's press office, the star will be absent again this afternoon (Saturday, May 10).

"Ms. Peters will not perform at today's matinee, but will return for this evening's performance at the Shubert Theatre," reads the announcement. "After returning to the production last night following a respiratory infection, Ms. Peters has been advised to take one more day to fully recover before playing a full performance schedule." Aside from her current run of absences, Peters had missed four performances during the preview period of this revival of the classic Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents musical, which is directed by Sam Mendes. Standby Maureen Moore has been going on in the lead role of Rose when Peters has been absent and will do so again this afternoon.

In an article in today's New York Post, Michael Riedel writes that "The packed crowd at the Shubert Theatre [last night] welcomed Peters with thunderous applause and gave her a standing ovation at the end [of the show] -- even though fans gave the 55-year-old actress mixed reviews....Theater buffs said the fragile-voiced diva gave a lackluster performance, especially because her voice cracked a few times and was hard to understand throughout the show." Riedel notes that "also in the audience were three of the 28 judges who will decide nominees for the Tony Awards, which will be announced Monday. One of the nominators -- who had to reschedule twice because of Peters's absence -- was told by the show's organizers to attend last night's performance because there is no guarantee she will be in today's show."

Meanwhile, Jesse McKinley reports in The New York Times today that, "Before last night, Ms. Peters had appeared in only three of the show's eight performances since opening night, a 62.5 percent absentee rate, which had resulted in hundreds of disappointed theatergoers. About 600 tickets had been exchanged; another 600 had been refunded, amounting to a little more than $50,000 in lost revenue for the producers....Those absences, coupled with four missed performances two weeks ago during previews, had led to speculation --- around Broadway, on the Internet and in gossip columns --- that the star's voice might not be up to the challenge of Momma Rose, who is onstage for the bulk of the show's two hours and 40 minutes. Judy Katz, a spokeswoman for the star, said that was not the case. Ms. Peters, she said, had been fighting an infection for several weeks and simply had not had time to recover. 'Bernadette is a very regimented person, but I think what happened with opening night and everything, she just never got rid of it,' Ms. Katz said, referring to the illness. 'And the doctors just thought it was better to side with caution and let her fully recover.'"

McKinley ends his report by noting that, "Ms. Peters's absences notwithstanding, Gypsy has been selling briskly, with $2 million in sales since its opening."