Ever since she warbled “You Belong to Me” in 1979′s “The Jerk,” I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Bernadette Peters. With her cupid bow mouth and Mae West-on-helium delivery, the star of screen and stage boosts everything in which she appears, even the cruddy 1989 Clint Eastwood vehicle “Pink Cadillac.” So it speaks volumes that the Tony-awarded singer plays one of the few non-musicians in “Mozart in the Jungle,” the Amazon original series about New York’s classical music scene. Just talking about it converts me into an overbearing mother: Dear, you’d look so nice if you stood up straight and brushed the hair out of your eyes. Here is a show yet to capitalize on its natural assets.
A chief asset is the story behind the show: Blair Tindall’s 2005 eponymous memoir. After cutting her losses and getting a journalism degree, the professional oboist wrote this clear-eyed, white-knuckled account of the economic and emotional realities facing classical instrumentalists today. Both bleaker and more libidinous than the show, the book spares nothing and no one – from badly structured arts education initiatives to preening benefactors to the substance abuse, narcissistic injuries, and erotic misadventures of Tindall and her peers. Through her eyes, this seemingly austere subculture is as degenerate as a heroin den; she herself made headlines after dumping two bottles of weed killer in “science guy” Bill Nye’s garden when he left her after seven weeks of marriage. (more…)