The Berman Center for the Performing Arts may be the place in West Bloomfield "where everybody knows your name," but don't expect to see Dr. Lilith Sternin from TV's "Cheers" when Bebe Neuwirth takes the stage tonight.
In her one-woman cabaret show "Stories With Piano," Neuwirth will perform music by world-renowned songwriters and composers including Stephen Sondheim and the team of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.
"Sometimes it's a linear story, sometimes it's more abstract than that," said Neuwirth, 53, who won a Tony award as a Broadway star after winning two Emmys for her role on "Cheers."
As the main event of the annual Stephen Gottlieb Festival of the Arts, ending this Sunday, Neuwirth is expected to perform sing pop songs by Edith Piaf, the Beatles and Tom Waits in addition to showtunes by Sondheim and Weill and Brecht.
The narrative theme allows Neuwirth to thrive as a storyteller, she explained by phone from New York City, and while it may not necessarily be her story, she said, she is able to tune in to those whose stories she tells through song.
"The songs that I have chosen are not necessarily autobiographical, but there's certainly something that makes sense to me in some way. That's what I'd like the audience to feel," Neuwirth said. "They are stories of love and heartbreak, but it's not all doom-and-gloom."
Festival Director Linda Levy said that she is looking forward to the ways in which Neuwirth and accompanying pianist Scott Cady are able to communicate with the audience. "They have such an incredible rapport together that I think people are going to feel right at home. It's a terrific show," she said.
Neuwirth added that she is excited to bring a Broadway-style show to a smaller, suburban theater. "We've tried to reach out a bit beyond traditional Broadway within the show, so I suppose it makes sense that we're doing this," she said. "I've always felt welcome when I've performed (past shows) in Ann Arbor and I'm looking forward to this, very much."
Tickets for the event, hosted by the Jewish Community Center, are $46 for JCC members and $56 for nonmembers. Tickets may be purchased online at theberman.org. The Berman is located at 6600 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield.
Also at the Festival of the Arts this weekend:
- "What’s New at the DIA?" Detroit Institute of Arts Director Graham W. J. Beal will offer insights into his tenure as museum director and discuss the DIA’s new exhibits. Free for JCC and DIA members; tickets are $11 for the general. Sunday, Sept. 2 at 3 p.m.
- Broadway in HD, a film presentation of Stephen Sondheim’s "Company," at the Berman. Featuring an all-star cast including Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone and Stephen Colbert. Sunday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.