Two Tony Award winners and two actresses currently enjoying the roles of their careers will be part of the tribute to Lloyd Webber at the Dec. 3 event. Playbill.com has learned that Betty Buckley, who won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella in Lloyd Webber's Cats, will join Sarah Brightman for a rendition of the Cats anthem "Memory." Brightman created the role of Christine Daae in another Lloyd Webber musical, The Phantom of the Opera, and was also married to the composer for several years.
Elena Roger, the Argentine actress who is currently wowing London audiences in the acclaimed West End revival of Evita, will make her first U.S. stage appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors, performing a song from the Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical that charts the rise and fall of Eva Peron. And, the New York Post reports that Christine Ebersole, who opened to raves in the new Broadway musical Grey Gardens, will perform "As If We Never Said Goodbye," the second-act showstopper from Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard.
Joining Lloyd Webber for the 29th Annual Kennedy Center Honors are conductor Zubin Mehta, country singer-songwriter Dolly Parton, singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson and film director Steven Spielberg. The 2006 Honorees will be saluted in a gala performance at the Kennedy Center's Opera House Dec. 3. President and Mrs. Bush will receive the Honorees at the White House prior to the performance. The evening — which will be filmed for TV broadcast — will air on CBS-TV in December.
(The honorees will receive their awards Dec. 2 at a State Department dinner hosted by Condoleezza Rice.)
In a previous statement Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said, "This year we honor five extraordinary international artists whose abundant contributions to their fields are remarkable. They have transformed the culture of our country and of the world. Andrew Lloyd Webber has led a seismic change in our musical theater becoming the most popular theater composer in the world; conductor Zubin Mehta’s profound artistry and devotion to music make him a world treasure; Dolly Parton’s creativity and spirit make her country music’s best international ambassador; Smokey Robinson’s song and voice have created the soundtrack for the lives of a generation of Americans; and Steven Spielberg’s films make him one of the most successful and accomplished directors of all time." Honorees are recognized for lifetime contribution to American culture in the fields of dance, music, theatre, opera, motion pictures or television. Recommendations of possible nominees were made by members of the Kennedy Center's national artists committee, past honorees as well as these artists: Dan Aykroyd, Angela Bassett, Dave Brubeck, Glenn Close, Barbara Cook, Michael Douglas, Nora Ephron, Renee Fleming, Denyce Graves, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anjelica Huston, Joseph Kalichstein, Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, Rob Marshall, Audra McDonald, Reba McEntire, Liam Neeson, Mary-Louise Parker, Oscar Peterson, Christopher Plummer, Samuel Ramey, Natasha Richardson, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Kevin Spacey, Frederica von Stade and Damian Woetzel. Previous Kennedy Center Honorees Edward Albee, Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, Jacques d’Amboise, Julie Harris, Marilyn Horne, Elton John, Angela Lansbury, Arthur Mitchell, Paul Newman, Hal Prince and Beverly Sills also made nominations.
Last year's Kennedy Center Honorees included singer Tony Bennett, dancer and teacher Suzanne Farrell, actress Julie Harris, actor-director-producer Robert Redford and singer Tina Turner.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is the award-winning composer of Cats, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, Jesus Christ Superstar, By Jeeves, The Woman in White, Whistle Down the Wind, The Beautiful Game and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He is currently a co-producer of the London revival of The Sound of Music; casting for the musical's lead role was the subject of the U.K. reality series "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?"
For more information about the Kennedy Center Honorees or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, visit www.kennedy-center.org.