Kelly Marie Tran and Tony Award® Winner David Henry Hwang and Original Cast Members of His and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER Including Billy Bustamante, Francis Jue, Jon Hoche, Paul HeeSang Miller, Kendyl Ito, Austin Ku, Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Kristen Faith Oei, Emily Stillings, Kyra Smith, and John Yi, Perform in Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert Airing on PBS on Oct. 1

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

The Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert held on September 14 in the Concert Hall, will be broadcast across the nation on October 1 at 9 p.m. ET as THE KENNEDY CENTER at 50 on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS video app.

Echoing “An American Pageant for the Arts,” the 1962 fundraising telecast for the National Cultural Center hosted by Leonard Bernstein, this special celebration was hosted by six-time Tony Award® winner Audra McDonald with special guest Caroline Kennedy and featured the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO). The concert was directed and choreographed by Emmy Award® winner and Tony Award® nominee Joshua Bergasse and featured newly announced conductors JoAnn Falletta, Steven Reineke, and Thomas Wilkins.

Standing: Kristen Faith Oei, Kendyl Ito, John Yi, Raymond J. Lee, Kyra Smith, Jon Hoche, Emily Stillings, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay. On the floor: Austin Ku, Francis Jue and Billy Bustamante at the Kennedy Center on September 14, 2021. Photo courtesy of Kristen Faith Oei

Star Wars and Raya and the Last Dragon star Kelly Marie Tran joined Tony Award® winner David Henry Hwang and the original cast of his and Jeanine Tesori’s groundbreaking musical-within-a-play, Soft Power including Billy Bustamante, Francis Jue, Jon Hoche, Paul HeeSang Miller, Kendyl Ito, Austin Ku, Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Kristen Faith Oei, Emily Stillings, Kyra Smith, and John Yi, to sing ‘Democracy’ in the Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert on September 14, 2021.

Kelly Marie Tran (center) joined original castmembers of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER, Paul HeeSang Miller, Kyra Smith, John Yi, Austin Ku, Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee, Francis Jue, Kendyl Ito, Billy Bustamante, Jaygee Macapugay, Jon Hoche, and Emily Stillings, to sing ‘Democracy’ in the Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert on September 14, 2021. Photo by Scott Suchman

Featured artists includied National Poetry Slam champion and 2018 National Book Award winner Elizabeth Acevedo; dancer, choreographer, and tradition-bearer of Black American social dance LaTasha Barnes; American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Herman Cornejo and Cassandra Trenary; Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large Renée Fleming; violinist Randall Goosby; Lucille Lortel Award–nominated tap dancers featured on So You Think You Can Dance John Manzari and Leo Manzari; Grammy Award®–winning bassist/composer Christian McBride; Grammy Award®–winning musician Keb’ Mo’; lead singer of Lake Street Drive Rachael Price; Grammy Award®–winning band Punch Brothers; and Astaire Award winner and Tony Award® nominee Tony Yazbeck; Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, creators of the TikTok smash The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical; violinist Ray Chen; Tony® and Grammy Award® nominee Joshua Henry; four-time Grammy Award®–winning pianist, composer, producer, and founding Kennedy Center Hip Hop Culture Council Member Robert Glasper; Grammy®–nominated soul singer-songwriter Bettye LaVette; Latin Grammy® winner and Grammy Award®nominee Gaby Moreno; Tony Award® winner Kelli O’Hara; pianist Zhu Wang; and Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems in a world premiere collaboration with Artistic Advisor to the NSO, Ben Folds.

Kristin Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee, Kelly Marie Tran, Francis Jue and Kendyl Ito. Photo by Scott Suchman
Kristin Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee, Common, Joshua Henry, Francis Jue and Kendyl Ito. Photo by Scott Suchman

Activist-scholar and Piscataway tribe historian, Dr. Gabrielle Tayac, will participate in a land acknowledgement that will feature a performance from Lance Fisher and Giovanna Gross.

To learn more about the Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary, click here.

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