Sean Martin Hingston

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Kennedy Center Honors

Happy New Year! Performing at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington D.C. was intense. Mel Brooks, Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Brubeck and Opera Diva, Grace Bumbry were the honorees. The Mel Brooks tribute, of which I was part, was right before intermission. The audience jumped to their feet at the end of our 12 minute medley. Stroman did a stellar job with the tribute.

We were then asked to line up in the wings to ‘receive’ the President and First Lady, which was unexpected. I stood between Melissa Etheridge and Jon Stewart (Heroes!). When you’re meeting the big Kahuna everyone else is equally star struck, no matter how HUGE they are themselves. The Obama’s strolled down the line shaking everyone’s hand and saying hello. There’s not much to report, I was too intimidated to say anything except, ‘Honored to meet you. The President’s skin felt soft. Michelle looked goddess-like in a strapless purple/mauve draped gown. With he hair swept up she was at least 6’5″. Seriously. I was dancing with 6 foot tall showgirls all week and she towered over them.

But the madness didn’t stop there. When Melissa (and I think you can call a diva by her first name when you’ve chanted in her ear, ”Obama! Obama! Let Mama Marry Mama!” while anticipating the arrival of the leader of the free world) was performing to honor Springsteen, I found a spot alone in the wings to watch. Behind her was a painted he backdrop of the Asbury Park boardwalk, The Boss’ stomping grounds! I have a house in A.P. and was excited to see it represented.. So, I am standing alone watching Etheridge when Sting stands shoulder to shoulder with me. He was so close I could smell him! He went on next to close the show, supported by a massive choir. I met him ten minutes later and told him how much I have loved dancing to his music over the years, “God Bless you”, he says to me. No, God bless you STING! At which point Vice President Biden came backstage. The Secret Service are EVERYWHERE and I must have passed through the metal detector in the wings ten times throughout the evening. When I met the V.P. he asked me where I was from: Australia and more recently New York City. When I told him I was naturalized here he then thanked me for choosing the US. Thank -you Mr. Vice President! Star Struck. It was wall-to-wall celebs. THEN. THEN.

THEN, I met Meryl Streep, and she was delightful, “I heard you had an awful time with your costumes at dress rehearsal but you were terrific tonight, it looked wonderful”, She said. I replied that it all came off splendidly. Then, just as a photo was taken, she leans her head toward mine and sings through her smile “That’s why they call us professionals!” She was so lovely and down to earth.

A night I will always cherish. Thanks Stro!