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THEATERMANIA EXCLUSIVE: Julie Andrews, Audra McDonald, David Hyde Pierce Join PBS for Great Performances Special logo

Audra McDonald
© David Gordon
Stage legend and Oscar winner Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music), five-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald (The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess), and Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) were among the participating artists for an upcoming PBS special saluting the 40th anniversary of its acclaimed Great Performances series.

The event was taped on Thursday, November 15 at Lincoln Center's David W. Koch Theater as part of WNET/THIRTEEN's 50th Anniversary Gala. The special will air on WNET and other PBS stations in 2013.

Andrews was on hand to welcome the audience and share recollections about her long history with Great Performances. Pierce commented on the series' devotion to presenting theater, and quipped that watching the series, as he did, was no guarantee of becoming an actor. "Lots of people watch Great Performances and go into respectable professions," he said.

McDonald led off the concert with stirring performances of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's "Dear Friend" (from She Loves Me) and Jason Robert Brown's "Stars and the Moon." She was followed by rock legend Don Henley, who sang the Eagles' mega-hit "Desperado"; and singer Josh Groban, who performed both his pop hit "Changing Colors" and Stephen Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around" (from Sweeney Todd).

In addition, classical violinist Itzhak Perlman combined his talents with the Klezmer Conservatory Band and cantor Yitzhak Meir Helfgot to perform selections of Klezmer music; Peter Martins introduced members of New York City Ballet, who danced "It Should've Been Me," set to the music of Ray Charles; Grammy winners Take 6 did a harmonic version of "Just In Time" and were then joined by Grammy winner Patti Austin, who sang "How High The Moon"; and Metropolitan Opera star Elina Garanca performed selections from Carmen.

The concert concluded with an appearance by Grammy Award winner Michael Buble, who crooned "That's All" before inviting the entire audience on stage to join him in a rousing rendition of "I've Got the World on a String."