Later, inside, Denyce Graves would perform Ave Maria and Bridge Over Troubled Water; Brian Stokes Mitchell would sing Don’t Rain on my Parade and You’ll Never Walk Alone; Heidi Blickenstaff belted out New York, New York; and ABC Nashville’s Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio crooned When the Right One Comes Along and Fade into You.
But the red carpet arrivals of Sunday night’s Ford’s Theatre Annual Gala were a performance of their own.
Attendees included Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, The Honorable Valerie Jarrett, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, members of Congress and other distinguished guests.
The Ford’s Theatre Annual Gala benefits the Ford’s Theatre Society and its programming, like the Lincoln Legacy Project, an effort to generate dialogue around issues of tolerance, equality and acceptance.
Among those honored between gala program performances Sunday night were Dennis and Judy Shepard, parents of murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard. (This fall, Ford’s Theatre will present a stage production of The Laramie Project, a series of powerful personal accounts based on the community’s reaction to Matthew’s death.)
The evening also included the presentation of the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal to former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Basketball Hall of Fame honoree Bill Russell, both for their character and accomplishments, which “reflect Lincoln’s legacy of leadership, service, wisdom and vision.”
And in addition to the performances above, the Gala program also included a tap sequence led by Omar Edwards, John and Leo Manzari and Luke Spring, and a rousing performance of Make Our Garden Grow from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide by Denyce Graves, Brian Stokes Mitchell and the Ford’s Theatre Gala Company.
Performances were followed by a seated dinner at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum.
*All photos credit Jack Conroy