In December 2010, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts bestowed Kennedy Center Honors upon Tony-winning composer and lyricist Jerry Herman, as well as Merle Haggard, Bill T. Jones, Paul McCartney, and Oprah Winfrey.
A host of stage and screen stars had headed to D.C. to pay tribute to four-time Tony recipient Herman, who passed away at the age of 88 December 26, 2019. Kicking off the ode was Tony winner Angela Lansbury, who introduced the biographical segment. Lansbury spoke about the wonderful entrance Herman provided her in Mame, where she slid down an elaborate staircase to sing Herman's toe-tapping "It's Today."
The performance section of the tribute, which can be viewed above, kicked off with a brief introduction by Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer, who was then starring in the Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles. Carol Channing followed, singing "Hello, Jerry" to the title tune of Herman's Hello, Dolly!. Broadway and Glee favorite Matthew Morrison then sang and danced his way through the aforementioned "It's Today," followed by two veteran Mames—Christine Baranski and Christine Ebersole—who traded zingers in Mame's "Bosom Buddies."
Laura Benanti performed a simple, heartfelt rendition of "Time Heals Everything" from Mack and Mabel, and Sutton Foster belted out "Before the Parade Passes By" from Dolly!. Matt Bomer and Kelli O'Hara subsequently joined forces for a soaring version of that Tony-winning musical's ballad, "It Only Takes a Moment."
After 2002 Kennedy Center Honoree Chita Rivera performed the Dear World anthem "I Don't Want to Know," the tribute concluded with choral renditions of "I Am What I Am" and "The Best of Times," both from La Cage. The latter was led by Herman's original Mame and Dear World star, 2000 Kennedy Center Honoree Lansbury, along with Channing, Rivera, and the rest of the evening's performers.
Watch the biographical tribute to Herman, introduced by Lansbury, below. Read the full Playbill obituary for Mr. Herman here.