LOS ANGELES - Dick Van Dyke
may be 82, but he can still get 14 syllables into a single word. Van Dyke sang "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" on Monday night at the Geffen Playhouse during a tribute to actress Annette Bening
and studio chief Robert A. Iger. The ceremony honored their efforts to support the arts — live theater in particular.
Van Dyke even recreated a bit of the choreography from "Mary Poppins" with the current Broadway stars of "Poppins" and "Mermaid," Ashley Brown and Sierra Boggess.
"The secret to keeping moving," Van Dyke said, "is keeping moving."
Not coincidentally, Julie Andrews served as co-chair of the tribute with Van Dyke, marking a "Poppins"-movie reunion on the arrivals line.
"It's one of those friendships where we do see each other, occasionally," said Andrews, 72. "Not as much as I like, but it's as if we never said goodbye, and we never did say goodbye."
While the spotlight was on three-time Oscar nominee Bening and Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, the stage loomed larger than both of them — and it's clear that's just as the two preferred.
The star of such movies as "American Beauty" and the upcoming "The Women," Bening, 49, told AP Television, "The non-profit theater is where I started. It's where I saw my first play. I don't know how many people out there were taken to the theater for the first time by their English teacher or their drama teacher, but that's where I went, which is The Old Globe in San Diego. ... So, for me, it's where I started, and I feel so grateful."
The Tony-nominated Bening won wide acclaim for her lead in "Hedda Gabler" at the Geffen in spring 1999. "I'd rather watch her on stage than anyone else," noted Bening's husband, actor Warren Beatty, 70. "And I'd rather watch her at home than on stage."
Bening has been a longtime supporter of the Geffen, as well as a member of the California Arts Council. When Iger, 57, took over for Michael Eisner as Disney chief in 2005, he quickly made it clear that he shared his predecessor's passion for theater. Disney now has five shows on Broadway, including the just-opened "The Little Mermaid" and the West End smash, "Mary Poppins."
Other celeb attendees included Oscar-winner Anjelica Houston, who presented to her "The Grifters" costar Bening; Tony-winning director Julie Taymor ("The Lion King"), who presented to Iger, as well as producer Gil Cates, writer Bruce Vilanch, and actors Sharon Lawrence
, Dana Delany
, James Cromwell and Jane Lynch.