All told, the Kennedy Center Honors are a pretty big deal, with recipients receiving their medals from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a State Department dinner, and they will be received just prior to the show by none other than the President of the United States Barack Obama, which, no matter what you think of him or his politics, is still a pretty big deal. And if you really can't put aside politics, at least they also get to meet the First Lady Michelle Obama, who, if nothing else, has been setting an excellent example for her daughters and the public at large by attending several Broadway shows during her first year.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2006 Honoree and Broadway Gal,
Dolly Parton with her medallion
Anyway, the honorees and their connections to Broadway are:
Jerry Herman, Composer and Lyricist of several Broadway shows, including 3 whose first runs were all over 1500 performances: Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles. For a long time, that was an untouchable record. He is now joined by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Schwartz for that fete. But no one can touch his show, La Cage aux Folles, three times produced and three times Best Musical or Musical Revival. Other shows include Mack and Mabel, Dear World, and Milk and Honey.
Bill T. Jones, Director, Choreographer. Jones won the Tony for his choreography for Spring Awakening and Fela! He was nominated for Best Book of a Musical and Best Direction of a Musical for the latter. He is being honored for his outstanding and long-term work in the art of dance.
Sir Paul McCartney, Song Writer. He has contributed songs to THREE Broadway shows: Beatlemania!, Lennon, and Rock 'N Roll! The First 5000 Years. Of course, he is being honored for a lifelong career in culture changing musicianship.
Oprah Winfrey, Producer. She "presented" The Color Purple: the Musical on Broadway and on tour. She is also a regular supporter of the bigger Broadway shows that come through Chicago, notably The Lion King. Being the Queen of All Media, a zillionaire and a major philanthropist, is what she is being honored for.
Only singer and songwriter Merle Haggard has no direct connection to Broadway or the theatre.
The State Dinner and Medallion Ceremony will be held December 4, and the gala performance and White House Reception on December 5. CBS will televise the show on December 28.
Congratulations to all of the honorees!