News & Politics

“Hamilton,” Cher, Jack Evans: A Report From the Kennedy Center Honors

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Photograph by Evy Mages

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Happy Monday. Last night I attended the 41st-annual Kennedy Center Honors, where Cher, Philip Glass, Reba McEntire, and Wayne Shorter all received the performing arts center’s highest award. Hamilton co-creators Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Andy Blankenbuehler, and Alex Lacamoire all received a special, never-before-awarded group commendation for their work creating the smash Broadway phenomena. I was surprised to see the mostly 50+ crowd so energized for Hamilton—the attendees doled out the most standing ovations, whooping cheers, and red carpet love for the musical. All of this while Cher was in the building. Cher!

Alexander Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow, who will be the guest of note at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, walked the red carpet along Herbie Hancock, the cast from the original Broadway production of Hamilton, Kelly Clarkson, St. Vincent, and, you guessed it, DC Councilmember Jack Evans. Why was Evans there? “To celebrate Cher, of course!” When asked what his favorite Cher song was, Evans said “If I Could Turn Back Time”–you know, the tune one might sing if caught parking illegally.

All four major honorees had surprise guests fly in and pay tribute. Of note was EGOT Whoopi Goldberg in a black and pink sequined robe who spoke for Cher, with gave me the smack of Sister Act 3 vibes I crave. Adam Lambert and Cyndi Lauper singing “I Got You Babe” also had me a little emotional, I must admit.

Some current and former administration staff, including Steve Mnuchin, John Roberts, and Nick Ayers, were spotted among the crowd. I personally bumped into US Senator Jeff Flake with my laptop bag—sorry, Jeff. US Senator Rand Paul and US Representative Nancy Pelosi (who was sitting next to Cher!)  joined a sprinkling of other political folk in the building. There was not a single mention of President Trump by name. Neither he nor Melania Trump have attended the Kennedy Center ceremony while in office.

After, we all filed into the foyer for dinner. I failed to discuss the “thank u, next” music video with any of the VIPs, but I did get to use my “lock eyes at celebrities with such intensity that they must assume you are one of them” bit with mild success. Need more color from the night? Check out my Twitter feed or Instagram (and while you’re there, consider subscribing for what some have described as prophetic content.)

You can always contact me, Brittany Shepherd, at or find me on Twitter. Sign your work enemy for this newsletter here so you have something useful to fuel your ongoing feud.

What we have cooking at Washingtonian:

• A reporter flagged a questionable meme posted by the accused Charlottesville killer. Then Facebook blocked him.

• You want holiday pop-up markets, we deliver. Here are nine places to buy cheery tchotchkes.

• Hello, fellow kids—it’s me, your friendly neighborhood IRS here to tell you that we’re on #Instagram now.

• How did Sally Quinn end up with the job of interviewing Stormy Daniels live at Politics and Prose tonight? Quinn explains.

Our pick for things to do around town:

COMEDY Sketch comedy group Second City brings an all-female group to Woolly Mammoth for a roast of the patriarchy called She the People. Come ready to laugh at the idea of “having it all”–plus all the ways our government is (ahem) looking out for us ladies. Through January 6. $40-$93.

Good reads:

You must read the most recent Date Lab. The headline alone induces date stress dreams. (Washington Post Magazine)

Big events from Washingtonian

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Every year, Washingtonian hosts several photo contests, and we’re looking to you to help determine which contest we host in 2019. Vote for the photo contest you’d like to participate in.

Drink wine on a Wednesday! Sip the night away at Washingtonian’s Winter Wine Classic at AJAX this Wednesday. The Après Ski-themed event features live music, light bites, and varietals from an array of winemakers including local favorites like City Winery, Summer Sessions, District Winery, and Grape Intentions. Get tickets here.

Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.