'Best week of my life' _ 11-year-old sings at White House

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2015 6:36 PM
'Best week of my life' _ 11-year-old sings at White House

NEW YORK (AP) — An 11-year-old who recently made her Broadway debut in a big Andrew Lloyd Webber musical has managed to top that — singing at the White House for Michelle Obama.

Bobbi MacKenzie, from Portland, Oregon, sang "If Only You Would Listen" from the show "School of Rock" on Monday, and also got high-fives from Tony Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Morrison of "Glee."

"I am having the best week of my life," Bobbi said by phone minutes after her performance. "I make my Broadway debut and the next week I go to the White House and perform for Michelle Obama. It's just a typical Monday at the White House."

The visit was part of a summit on acting, directing, singing and costume design that drew 40 students from both public arts high schools and after-school arts programs. Music was performed from a handful of Broadway shows.

Concert participants also included cast members from "Finding Neverland, "An American in Paris," ''On Your Feet!" ''Fun Home" and "Something Rotten."

Webber performed a medley of his hit songs, while iconic actress Cicely Tyson and director Diane Paulus also were on hand for advice. Choreographer Sergio Trujillo and actor Josh Segarra, who both have major roles in Gloria Estefan's new show "On Your Feet!" taught Obama some of the moves to Estefan's hit "Conga."

The performances were taped and will air on the TLC network Thanksgiving Day.

Bobbi's big day began the night before with a four-hour, bumpy bus trip to Washington. After an overnight hotel stay, she went to the White House and tried to take it all in as she waited. She was amazed to see Whoopi Goldberg ("I literally died because she's won everything — a Tony, a Grammy, an Oscar and an Emmy.")

"After that, it gets better," she added.

She soon got to take a photo and got a hug from Obama — "She said, 'break a leg.' She was really nice." Bobbi also got to meet Estefan in line. "And then, it gets better," she said.

Bobbi then performed her song, something she called "a little nerve-raking but exciting at the same time." She tried to keep looking at Obama, who was seated in the center of the audience.

"I kept like looking and she kept smiling. She kept clapping at the end. It felt really good," said Bobbi. "That's a moment I will never forget."

"School of Rock," the musical version of the 2003 film starring Jack Black, started previews Nov. 9 and will open Dec. 6. Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater have written new music to be added to some songs featured in the movie.

Bobbi made her professional debut as a singer in 2012 when she sang the national anthem for the NBA's Portland Trailblazers and went on to sing at games for the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and San Francisco 49ers.


Online: http://schoolofrockthemusical.com


Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits