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Broadway Plays Washington on Kennedy Center Tonight (1982)

TV Movie  -   -  Music  -  13 March 1982 (USA)
7.9
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Musical celebration hosted by Debbie Reynolds honoring the 10th Anniversary of Washington's Kennedy Center in their support of the performing arts.

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Title: Broadway Plays Washington on Kennedy Center Tonight (TV Movie 1982)

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Shelley Bruce ...
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Martin Charnin ...
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Debbie Shapiro Gravitte ...
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Maurice Hines ...
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Phyllis Hyman ...
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Musical celebration hosted by Debbie Reynolds honoring the 10th Anniversary of Washington's Kennedy Center in their support of the performing arts.

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13 March 1982 (USA)  »

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Raquel Welch was originally set to host but left after a dispute with the producers and was replaced by 'Debbie Reynolds'. Later that same year, Debbie Reynolds also succeeded Raquel Welch in the Broadway Musical "Woman of the Year". See more »

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User Reviews

 
Joyous, nostalgic look at Broadway's musical legends.
23 November 2003 | by (Los Angeles, California) – See all my reviews

Mulling through old VHS tapes, this one again caught my eye and ear. The 1982 gala performance in Washington D.C. was a musical tribute honoring the 10th anniversary of the Kennedy Center's commitment and decade-long support of the performing arts. A glorious array of musical stars (soon to be legends) came on board to laud the Center's efforts and, for the most part, this three-hour tribute does the Center justice. Moreover, it's a rare chance to see some stars when they were at their prime, some up-and-comers who were on their way then but are now prime, and some legends past their prime but adding class and stature nevertheless. A thoroughly enjoyable piece of musical entertainment.

Glamorous Debbie Reynolds hosted the event and was given the opportunity to display her own gritty stuff with "I Ain't Down Yet," from "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Other memorable moments included a segment in which the musical star recreated his-or-her scene-stealing number on Broadway. We were treated to the still magnificent chops of John Raitt with his rousing "Soliloquy" number from "Carousel"; the fiery energy of Chita Rivera strutting her stuff with "America" and "All That Jazz"; the cynical gravel tones of the wonderful Elaine Stritch belting out "The Ladies Who Lunch"; John Cullum's manly charm and solid baritone in "On a Clear Day..."; the well-known eccentrics of Charlotte Rae chirping away at "When the Idle Poor Becomes the Idle Rich"; and the cute and coy antics of the beloved Imogene Coca toying with the title song from "On the 20th Century."

Even more interesting was the following segment which introduced the "bright new stars of the future." Ken Page as Fats Waller with his droll rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Your Feets Too Big"; Christine Ebersole with the quietly intense Sondheim number "Not a Day Goes By"; the late Lynne Thigpen, who was a major musical talent ("Godspell," "Tintypes" and "Working") before focusing on straight dramatics, with her inspirational "What I Could Have Been"; and the petite dynamo Debbie Shapiro with the exceptional he-did-me-wrong song "Junkman."

Of course an evening like this has to be a mixed bag. Beatrice Arthur looked like she was sleepwalking through "Hey, Look Me Over" while the normally exciting Ann Reinking (and her dancers) turned in a listless "Too Darn Hot" dance interlude that was lukewarm at best. Alexis Smith is one stylish dame but her song "We Have Nothin' But Style" lacked just that. Barry Bostwick thought he was funnier than he was with his "Drive-In" number from "Grease," while our own "Ambassador of Love" Pearlie Mae was sorely off-key with her half-sung "Hello, Dolly!" and "Before the Parade Passes By." And though "West Side Story" star Larry Kert was tentative with his "Maria" high notes and Bobby Morse borderline annoying with his signature song "I Believe in You," from "How to Succeed...", together they did their drag rendition of "The Beauty That Drives a Man Mad" from "Sugar" that was, if nothing else, campy fun.

On the cute, engaging, if saccharine, side was Martin Charnin and Charles Strouse's introduction of four of their present and past Little Orphan Annies from Broadway: perky little Allison Smith, a very young and girlish Sarah Jessica Parker, a graceful and composed Shelley Bruce, and the show's original Annie, Andrea McArdle, who belted out a fantastic if shortened version of "Tomorrow."

For me, however, the night belonged to the fabulous hoofer Maurice Hines, whose dancing feet are as incredible as brother Gregory's, and the late Phyllis Hyman who was spotlighted in "Sophisticated Ladies" at the time. Hyman oozed out a haunting version of "In a Sentimental Mood," her sultry, smoky voice leaving a sad, tell-tale impression to this viewer since she died a suicide a decade later. But when it comes to energy, nobody does it better than the indefatigable Melba Moore who rips into "I've Got Love" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" like her life depended on it, showing off her amazing four-octave range with effortless ease.

Ellen Burstyn and Helen Hayes, two non-singers, were around as fundraisers to praise and promote not only the Kennedy Center, but PBS-TV network.

All in all, a joyful noise was captured that night at Kennedy Center, but I have no idea, unless someone taped it, how anyone can get a hold of this wonderful musical tribute to yesteryear.


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