Emergency workers who responded to the devastation in West, Texas, Newtown, Connecticut, and Boston were honored at last night’s Ford’s Theatre Annual Gala, where Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance.
The theater, which is known for its all-American musical productions, was a good setting for asking red-carpet arrivals to name their favorite musical.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came in right behind Brian Stokes Mitchell and cited the show for which he won a Tony nomination. “I’d have to say ’Ragtime,’” said Pelosi, “considering the present company.”
Sam Palladio, who arrived with his “Nashville” co-star Clare Bowen, said his heart belongs to “Pirates of Penzance,” because, well, Penzance is his hometown. “Sweeney Todd” is a favorite of Bowen’s, who wore a creamy, diaphanous vintage number.
Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat, said he preferred “Oklahoma!” while his wife, Melodee, has long admired “West Side Story.”
Opera singer Denyce Graves and Eric Stonestreet, the Emmy-winning actor from “Modern Family,” also appeared on the red carpet. Inside, right after the responders were saluted, Stokes Mitchell sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel.” Broadway performer Heidi Blickenstaff, in short J. Mendel, sang “New York, New York.”
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Hall of Fame basketball center Bill Russell were given the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal for exemplifying the legacy of the president, who was assassinated in the theater in 1865.
The responders honored were Sergeant David Kullgren of the Newtown Police Department; Chief of Police Douglas S. Fuchs of Redding, Connecticut; Matt Patterson of the Lynn, Massachusetts, Fire Department; and Robert Payne of the West Volunteer Fire Department.
The new chairman and chief executive of General Dynamics Corp., Phebe N. Novakovic, said her relationship with Ford’s Theatre dates back to her teens when she saw her first show there.
After the awards ceremony, guests dined on a buffet at the nearby National Portrait Gallery featuring five-mushroom tarts, pecan-crusted tenderloin, and key lime cheesecake.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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