Beverly Hills was alive with the sound of music, if only for a moment or two, when Julie Andrews treated a live audience to the most singing she’s done since her botched throat operation five years ago.
On Thursday night Andrews hosted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Centennial Tribute to Richard Rodgers, the legendary composer whose famed collaboration with lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II gave the world such songs as “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “The Sound of Music.”
After introducing several live performances and film clips featuring Rodgers-composed songs–including clips of herself singing as Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music–the singer caught the audience off guard when she warbled the words to “Do-Re-Mi” in Japanese.
Andrews joined a group of performers that included Oscar winners Joel Grey and Kathy Bates, Tony Danza, Broadway stars Andrea Marcovicci, Anne Runolfsson and Lillias White, and jazz singer/composer Steve Tyrell for the big finale, a rousing rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from The Sound of Music.
At the end of the evening, Andrews delicately sang the opening lyric to “So Long, Farewell,” also from The Sound of Music, as she bid adieu to the audience, which included her husband, director Blake Edwards, her Music director Robert Wise, composer Richard M. Sherman (Mary Poppins) and all but one of her (now grown) Music child co-stars.
In 1997, the 66-year-old star of Broadway classics such as My Fair Lady and Camelot as well as the films Mary Poppins, Victor/Victoria and The Princess Diaries underwent surgery to remove non-cancerous throat nodules, and the operation left her unable to sing. Claiming she hadn’t been warned of the surgery’s risks, she sued two doctors and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
Just last week the Associated Press reported that Andrews has been seeing Dr. Steven Zeitels, who heads the collaborative vocal restoration project at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for about four years.
“At my age, I’m hoping that there will be some restoration,” she said at a press conference. “That actually is a possibility.”