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2018 Kennedy Center Honors: In one, honoree performs Lin-Manuel Miranda

201 8 Kennedy Center honorees appeared on stage at the top of the show. Rear row, from left: Thomas Kail,…


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8 Kennedy Center honorees appeared on stage at the top of the show. Rear row, from left: Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andy Blankenbuehler and Alex Lacamoire. Framraden, from the left: Wayne Shorter, Cher, Reba McEntire and Philip Glass. (Sarah L. Voisin / Washington Post)

Kennedy Center Honors went out of her comfort zone on Sunday night and recognized for the first time a living, breathtaking work of art together with four experienced – and also living and breathing American artists.

By adding a popular musical, the universally famous “Hamilton” to a historical list of honorees that has been run alphabetically for the last 41 years from George Abbott to Joanne Woodward, the Kennedy Center revised radically the rules and, in a way, the sumptuous the ceremony that brings the winners. The other winners of this year were singer and actress Cher, country star star Reba McEntire, jazz great Wayne Shorter and avant-garde composer Philip Glass.

The happy aspect was to introduce the program – a show to be broadcast on CBS after all, as well as a fundraiser – with music and star power by a dazzling Broadway blockbuster and a quartet artist at the peak of his career. It is likely that the art school Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, music director Alex Lacamoire and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler will make a direct appeal to a younger audience about the relevance of the awards.

But when the ceremony’s “Hamilton” segment featured some of the original Broadway members – Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones, the original Schuyler sisters and Christopher Jackson and Miranda – a question that remained in the opera house. Is this award a one-time? Is “Hamilton” the only American-made artistic product with sufficient impact to disturb the tradition of giving prices for individual lifetime? And if not, what’s next?

It is obvious that this year was a breakthrough or an opportunistic exception. Meanwhile, the production itself, divided as always in five separate segments and directed by Glenn Weiss, developed as a kind of supermarket of acts, most musical but some spoken or comic. Gloria Estefan, a 2017 honoree, served as a ceremony for a casting that included such fixtures as Renée Fleming, Cyndi Lauper, Herbie Hancock, Kristin Chenoweth, S. Epatha Merkerson, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Lambert, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Koh, Esperanza Spalding and St. Vincent.


Nancy Pelosi and Christian Chenoweth on the red carpet before the honorary ceremony. (Sarah L. Voisin / Washington Post)

It’s incredibly hard to cook down the lifetime of honorees for 25 minutes of material, to make justice for a life devoted, for example, finding “so many ways to make his horns sound like the human voice, “as Wynton Marsalis commented in a short film about Shorter, the jazz composer. And in some cases, the praise was so syrupy, it could be stuck on your shoes. “Reba, on behalf of the Earth and the Universe, and beyond, thank you very much for sharing those gifts with us,” drove the comic actress Melissa Peterman, a co-star of McEntires at WB sitcom “Reba”. [19659010] [ They always said that Cher (and cockroaches) could survive the end of the world. Lastly, she is not so sure.]

Whoopi Goldberg, who introduced the last segment of the night, extended Cher, made Peterman a better one. “Elvis. Sinatra. Cher, “she declared, grandly.

It was as usual the exceptional musical acts that burned on tonight’s extreme engines. Clarkson, McEntire’s son-in-law, banded out a divine version of McEntire’s” Fancy “and Jackson delivered a raft of George Washington’s” One Last Time “from” Hamilton “, developed into a floating ensemble song with the local members of the Voices of America Youth Choir. Miranda and Lacamore’s participation, on the piano, in the number by the way, represented the first time honorees performed at the party. 19659012] Lambert, who turned up for the Cher shelf, made an event high point of Chers 1998 met “Believe,” and Lauper materialized immediately after and got the crowd on their feet to bop along with “If I could beat time back”. From the opera house that the winners shared with such officials as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D -Calif.) And Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a glowing Cher could be seen, Tearfully takes the moment. (As expected, President Trump was a show again this year.)

Some interludes fell a little flat in the corridor: Chenoweth, wearing sparkle boots and sung “Doin” What Comes Nature “from” Annie Get Your Arms, “There McEntire appeared on Broadway 2001, came across weakly. And although Soo, Goldsberry and Jones sounded amazing as the trio sang “The Schuyler Sisters”, worthy of hearing Soo Sing “Helpless” or Goldsberry leads us through the brilliant “Satisfied” from “Hamilton.” A disadvantage of presenting a current Broadway production may be the possibility that its producers may be reluctant to share the greatest number of music.

But the segment of the career of Shorter consisted of two extraordinary pieces. The first was an extended jazz session at a nightclub set with instrumentalist Hancock and jazz singer Spalding. It was followed by Fleming performing a jazz aria from one of the most productive Shenter’s newest works. I’m not sure how These pieces will play on the CBS broadcast, December 26 at 8 o’clock But their beauty showed how crucial it is the ongoing introduction of the legends of jazz in the honorary advertisements.

Another stirring space was made for Glass’s oeuvre: Philip Glass Ensemble and Washington Chorus performed the selection of the movie “Koyaanisqatsi,” and Koh joined the choir and Merkerson for “Knee Play 5” from Glasas four-action 1976 opera, Einstein on the beach “. Perhaps the most memorable part of his tribute Jon Batiste was on the piano and performed the multi-vaulted opening of the house “Glassworks.”

The fair and the passage of time mentioned the show only current events once, and it was a tribute to another American of prestigious achievement, the 41st President George HW Bush, who died on Friday. Estefan was emotional as she told a story about getting a consolation call from Bush after her close lethal bus accident. The subsequent ovation that followed was one of the longest in one evening full of them.

Peggy McGlone contributed to this report.

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