An L.A. tradition kicked off on the first day of summer with the Hollywood Bowl’s opening on Saturday with a raucous concert that saw the induction of Pink Martini, the Go-Go’s and Kristin Chenoweth into the Bowl’s 15th Hall of Fame.
Describing the band’s start Thomas Lauderdale, who used to be a politico, said, “I threw on a cocktail dress and started a band. We played every wedding and bar mitzvah in Portland, Ore.”
Pink Martini was introduced by Barbara Eden, which lead singer China Forbes said was appropriate.
“ ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ theme song was a big part of our repertoire.” She drew laughs from the crowd when she described how they were sued in France for assuming one of their first songs, a French number, was in the public domain. “After the suit they asked us for our autographs.”
But it was the Go-Go’s, intro’ed by Natasha Bedingfield, who had members of the audience dancing by proving they still had the beat.
A big part of the bowl’s opening night is a perf by its Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. These budding musicians from L.A. schools were introduced by Miss Piggy (“What do you mean I’m not getting an award? This is Hollywood, we don’t do favors, we do payback”) and Helen Hunt.
Chenoweth was clearly the highlight of the evening. Presented by Carol Burnett, who got a standing O from the crowd when she walked on the stage, Chenoweth kicked off her perf with “I Could Have Danced All Night” in a nod to her Broadway background before showing her wide range.
Her “Glee” co-star Lea Michele shared that Chenoweth emailed her a message last year after the death of Cory Monteith that “music will heal everything.”
“At the time, I really didn’t get how that would be possible, but it really did,” Michele said before the two sang “For Good” from the musical “Wicked.”
At a pre-opening reception L.A. Phil board chair Deborah Borda said donors can see their investment in the bowl pay off by helping raise the next generation of artists. “This is going to be a great season with everything from Pink Martini to ‘The Simpsons,’” she added.
Bowl conductor Thomas Wilkins joked of his orchestra, “We do everything from Pink Martini to Prokofiev.”
(Pictured: Kristin Chenoweth and Lea Michele at the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame opening night)