Kennedy Center Honoree Cher runs the red carpet at the Washington event on December 2. (Sarah L. Voisin / Washington…
The red carpet before Sunday’s Kennedy Center Honors is the first look at A-list talent – usually an eclectic genre-exciting roster that is usually kept well under cover for dramatic power – hired to honor the honors of the evening. So when tuxedo and evening gowns started to pop up in front of the cameras, the big question was: Just how strong were this night to get?
Author Ron Chernow, whose book inspired the musical “Hamilton” show and its creative team was this year’s recipient of groundbreaking work) were among the first notes we discovered. Although he was eager to talk to the smash show based on his tome, he was mom on another topic that we are interested in – namely what he plans to say when taking the stage at the White House correspondent next year, where he is entertainer instead of the traditional comedian. So? He has “checked down some notes”, but Chernow allows, but otherwise he will hold the action.
A more immediate preview was musician St. Vincent, revealing that she would perform a guitar piece by producer rapper Tricky to honor composer Phillip Glass. Meanwhile, Act and Order acted actress S. Epatha Merkerson, and the dancer choreographer-former honoree Carmen de Lavallade swept past her dramatic black ball skirt turns.
A jukebox’s value of country stars is milling, probably there to pay tribute to vocalist Reba McEntire, a recipient of one of the Kennedy Center medals. We spied the members of Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, and Brooks & Dunn. The pop singer Kelly Clarkson fought over McEntire, who apparently played the beans she would perform to her glory (Kelly, that would be a surprise!) And. . . wait, a reputation as Cyndi Lauper was in the building.
Then the forecast became clearer: It would be a starry night.
We talked to Sam Moore, who had a black braided tuxedo blazer, rhinestone encrusted loafers and the comfortable air of a KenCen Honors veteran – as he is. He thinks this may be his seventh time in crazy. How is this different? “Soul Man” the singer says he is over President Trump throws a shadow overnight. Trumps made history last year by decreasing to host the traditional pre-event cocktail party or sitting in the honorees box and marking the first time in 40 years that a president or first lady was not part of the event after several honorees said that they did not want to attend a white house reception. This year Trumps fell again.
“It has been good for this” I will not show for [of] Trump, “says Moore.” Cut it out! It’s not about him – it’s about
Politics seemed the longest part of actor Melissa Peterman’s mind. She was there to commemorate her “Reba” star McEntire, and she said that the hardest part of prepping for the night was measuring material from 17 years of friendship with the country singer for 90 seconds assigned to showrunners her. She kiddes that she recovers what’s left on the cutting floor. “I could talk about her for six hours.” Peterson said. “Actually, I’m working with a lonely show.” Reba! What do you want to know? “”
And you might think that “Hamilt on” people would be quite tired of collecting awards for the show. But with a Grammy, Pulitzer Prize, Multi Tonys and Drama Desk Awards, a KenCen Honor will continue the trend of keeping Manhattan shelf builder solid.
Chris Jackson, who played George Washington in the original cast, told us that this night was special – and he was dressed to prove it in a black brocade tuxedo and diamond earrings. “It’s not just a night. It’s not just another place,” Jackson said about the impressive location.
Eventually the carpet lit with honorees themselves, preparing for an evening that usually plays like a song and dance version of “This Is Your Life” with cameras that capture their all reactions.
Glass was self-releasing, famous with jazz musician Wayne Shorter and singer-actress Cher. “I’m glad to be a part of it,” he said. “I’m not sure why I’m here.”
“Hamilton” artist and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, fresh from a mediablog about her new movie, “Mary Poppins Returns”, was kind enough to keep Washington’s press corps free from bacteria. He would be honored together with the “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail, music director Alex Lacamoire and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. “You do not want to shake my hand,” Miranda warned reporters. “I am sick.”
McEntire arrived to look regal in a royal blue coat and signature fire curls. She accused herself of being “happy” and unlike many recipients who claim that they would never dream of such honor, acknowledged that she had long sought to join the Kennedy Center. “I’ve been longing for it,” she said. “It’s like being part of a club. I do not take it for granted.”
Finally, Cher rolled up in the most Cher way possible (that is, highly anticipated, with no less than seven leak her belts clenched her waist) and declared herself in the camp “who, me”, mostly for that she thought she was “out there” for the Augustan era.
“I never expected this.” She said. And she answered the question undoubtedly on everyone’s lips: What would she have said to President Trump, at night, had actually brought her IRL contact with the target of so many of her critical tweets? Her response was as brief as one of her captivating pop words: “Oh, go away.”