The event: The Hollywood Bowl launched its 2014 summer season by inducting Kristin Chenoweth, the Go-Go's and Pink Martini into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. Beginning with a VIP reception for donors, ending with fireworks and offering performances including a powerful duet by Chenoweth and “Glee’s” Lea Michele in between, Saturday’s benefit concert raised more than $1 million for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music education programs.
The scene: Comedian Kathy Griffin, sharing a Garden Box with Sarah Michelle Gellar, said she came to support her friend Chenoweth and “to prove that live entertainment is alive and well.”
“So You Think You Can Dance” judge Nigel Lythgoe called the Hollywood Bowl his favorite concert venue. And bandleader Rickey Minor – there with girlfriend Rachel Collins – said, “If I could, I’d be here every night.”
Cybill Shepherd, burlesque queen Dita Von Teese, Jay Ferguson of “Mad Men,” County Supervisors Gloria Molina and Don Knabe, L.A. Phil board Chairwoman Diane Paul and L.A. Phil President Deborah Borda were also among the 18,000 music fans on hand for the evening, co-chaired by Teena Hostovich and Doug Martinet with sponsorship co-chairs Jonathan Weedman and Raymundo Baltazar.
The program: Conductor Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra kicked off the night’s festivities, before actress Taraji P. Henson talked of the honorees donating the evening’s performances. Barbara Eden of TV’s “I Dream of Jeannie” presented the eclectic, multi-lingual musical group Pink Martini, whose lead singer China Forbes translated one of their popular French tunes, as follows: “I don’t want to work; I don’t want to lunch; I want only to forget; and then I smoke.”
The parade of star power continued with Academy Award winner Helen Hunt praising YOLA, the Youth Orchestra L.A., and recording star Natasha Bedingfield introducing the iconic all-female rock band, the Go-Go’s. Finally, Carol Burnett called Chenoweth to the stage, describing her as “a towering figure in the entertainment industry,” before adding, “Not really – she’s only about this big,” referring to the Emmy and Tony Award winner’s 4’11” height.
“Wicked” moments: Having originated the role of Galinda, a.k.a. Glinda the good witch in “Wicked,” Chenoweth said she sometimes trolls the Internet checking out the world’s Galindas. “There are a lot of talented girls out there. There really are,” she said, before singing “Popular” in English, Japanese, German and Italian.
She talked of her concert tradition of choosing a volunteer at random to join her in “For Good,” the show’s famous duet. “I never, never pick [in advance] because I want to have the real moment,” she said, “but tonight I actually got to think about it.” She then talked of Lea Michele’s career, their friendship and how she’s seen Michele “have to have her life in front of the world.”
Michele said, “I have loved Kristin for so many years. I watched her Tony performance from ‘Good Man, Charlie Brown’ over and over again in my living room. I sang the whole song last night. I still remember it. And then we had the pleasure of working on ‘Glee’ together, and now I can say that she is my friend, which is the biggest pleasure of all.”
The numbers: Adding up concert tickets, VIP packages from $2,300 to $15,750 and sponsorship by Wells Fargo, the evening raised more than $1 million.
Ellen Olivier is the founder of SocietyNewsLA.com