Today we are focusing on this week's undisputed theatre-centric extravaganza, the 2011 KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, which featured stirring tributes to two stage superstars: Meryl Streep and Barbara Cook. Additionally, the show also celebrated the contributions to the arts from pop music icon Neil Diamond, classical crossover artist Yo-Yo Ma and jazz musician Sonny Rollins, but the top two tributes of the night belonged undoubtedly to the two lauded ladies. Featuring a slew of Broadway and Hollywood hoofers - Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Mike Nichols, Patti LuPone, Kelli O'Hara, Audra McDonald, Laura Osnes, Rebecca Luker, Glenn Close and Sutton Foster included - the Streep and Cook tributes were certainly something to see for theatre fans around the globe, with everything from ANYONE CAN WHISTLE to THE MUSIC MAN to SHE LOVES to PLAIN & FANCY to FOLLIES, CANDIDE and beyond getting its musical due on international TV thanks to the Kennedy Center and CBS. Yes, indeed, the 2011 KENNEDY CENTER HONORS was a must-see entertainment event, so if you were not lucky enough to catch it live you can now sample the sights and sounds of the show below!
We Love She(s)
First up, see President Barack Obama congratulate and celebrate the noted names on the roster in this greeting at the White House, recorded (as was the rest of the telecast, which just aired this Wednesday) on December 4.
Paying tribute to one of the most respected actresses of our age, here is a host of Hollywood's top talents giving props to the one and only Meryl Streep in this loving tribute to the modern queen of the screen. And just how hilarious is Tracey "Bloody" Ullman? Robert De Niro, Mike Nichols, Kevin Kline, Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci have some fascinating and funny insights into Streep's unparalleled career, as well - but Anne Hathaway's IRONWEED musical parody unquestionably beats them all, as you shall see!
Now, witness Meryl Streep's near-overwhelmed reaction to the fabulous festivities and humbling honors she received that night in this quick post-event red carpet chat.
So, what has been your personal favorite Streep film performance to date? What about her stage roles?
Introducing the foremost musical theatre lady of the evening, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick give some background on Barbara Cook's career and acknowledge her important place in the history of musical theatre, New York City and American culture in general, shortly followed by a moving video retrospective.
Now, for the marvelous musical moments to remember forever, here is the complete - and simply stunning - Barbara Cook musical tribute from the 2011 KENNEDY CENTER HONORS. ANYTHING GOES featured player Laura Osnes leads off with a lilting "This Is All Very New To Me" from PLAIN & FANCY, then Rebecca Luker and Kelli O'Hara give loving takes on two interrogatively-titled ditties from SHE LOVES ME - "Will I Ever Tell You?" and "Will He Like Me?" Next, Tony Award-winner Glenn Close takes the stage to sing the classic Stephen Sondheim ballad "Losing My Mind" from FOLLIES with actorly commitment and steely, passionate determination. Following that, we have three Tony-winning triple-threat divas setting the night alight as only they can: Sutton Foster, Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald. Performing a song Cook has made a staple of in her cabaret shows, Sutton Foster blasts ANYONE CAN WHISTLE's "Everybody Says Don't" to the rafters, only to be bested by Patti LuPone on a elegantly enunciated and sensuously enacted "Come Rain Or Come Shine". Topping off the divas, Audra McDonald shares her golden instrument and imbues her pristine performance style to Cook's most famous standard, "Till There Was You" from THE MUSIC MAN, leading into the spine-tingling finale from Leonard Bernstein's CANDIDE (another of Cook's most fondly remembered original musical roles), "Make Our Garden Grow". Wow! What a magnificent medley of musical moments from some of the very finest American musical masterpieces!
As a special bonus, check out this short post-show interview with Ms. Cook in which she chooses her favorite Sondheim songs ("In Buddy's Eyes" and "Anyone Can Whistle" top the list), as well as discusses what the Kennedy Center Honor means to her - plus, advice to young performers.
So, what was your favorite musical moment of the night? Funniest anecdote? The moment to remember out of them all? One thing is for sure: the 2011 KENNEDY CENTER HONORS surely had more than enough sheer entertainment value, laughs, spectacle and sparkle to delight any Broadway baby or entertainment enthusiast out there! Let's hope the 2012 ceremony is just as grand - yet, the big question remains to be answered: who to honor next?