WASHINGTON, D.C. Movie stars, musicians, and a host of other celebrities mixed with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Sunday night at the Kennedy Center for the 33rd annual Kennedy Center Honors. One of the few annual events in Washington that always draws an A-list crowd, this year’s honors were no exception, give the caliber of the five honorees: Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Bill T. Jones, Paul McCartney, and Jerry Herman.
As the honorees change each year, so does the award show, which is scheduled to be broadcast on CBS on December 28. The evening's wide-ranging cast of performers is always kept under wraps until showtime, though guests and the media began to get a glimpse of the high-profile attendees—among them Julia Roberts, Steven Tyler, Kelsey Grammer, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, and a reunited No Doubt—as they arrived on the red carpet in the Hall of States. One of the evening’s standout moments came during the closing of Paul McCartney’s honoring, when his tribute's cast of performers joined onstage to sing “Hey Jude” led by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. Ushers passed out electronic glow sticks before the song, and the crowd sang along, transforming the stately opera house into a rock concert for a brief moment.
Following the performance, more than 1,900 of the attendees made their way into the grand foyer for a gala dinner catered by Restaurant Associates and produced by Kennedy Center director of special events Leslie Miller with Carolyn Peachey of Campbell Peachey and Associates. The menu included a winter vegetable salad and a kabocha squash ravioli with lamb ragu, followed by a shared dessert plate of bite-size chocolates and macaroons. High and low bouquets accented with roses and carnations served as centerpieces on the 171 round tables, which were topped with a mix of white and black linens speckled with silver and gold circle patterns.
In the center of the grand foyer were two small dance floors that didn’t get a lot of action until later in the evening. While some celebrities skipped out shortly after dinner, many stayed, including Glee's Matthew Morrison, who performed as part of the Jerry Herman tribute and took to the microphone again around 1 a.m., singing an impromptu three-song set with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra.