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Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Seth MacFarlane Serenade Crowd at ‘Sing’ Premiere

Variety logo Variety 12/4/2016 Malina Saval
© Provided by Variety

Music echoed through the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live Saturday evening for the premiere of “Sing,” the latest in star-studded, song-filled animated fare from Universal and Illumination Entertainment.

Cast members Jennifer Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and Seth MacFarlane were among the celebrities who walked the red carpet, along with Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri and producer Janet Healy. NBCUniversal vice chairman, Ron Meyer, was seen snacking on popcorn prior to the film’s start.

Legendary recording artist Stevie Wonder, who sings the original track “Faith” in the singing competition-inspired film — which includes 103 tunes in total — was also on hand for the festivities.

“There’s Stevie Wonder, standing right there, and he is a legend,” marveled “Sing” director Garth Jennings. “And seriously, when Stevie Wonder says, ‘I love your movie, I love your songs, can I do another…?’ Things like that are miracles. That doesn’t happen very often in a lifetime, never mind a career. I’m about as grateful as I can get.”

Jennings, who notes that the filmmakers never could have predicted the outcome of this latest election, nonetheless considers “Sing” the perfect antidote to today’s trying times.

“It is a joy fest,” he says. “It is unashamedly joyful and that was, from the outset, our mission. There are weird coincidences, like the fact [the song] ‘Hallelujah’ features very prominently and, of course, we lost Leonard Cohen and that song has taken on a new meaning lately. But you can’t ever predict these things because you are making decisions about a movie three years before it’s finished. I’m so proud of it because of that reason, that people seem to really, really enjoy it as much as we always hoped.”

“Sing” composer Joby Talbot said he was hooked on the film’s premise from the moment he read the script.

“I’m an old friend of Garth Jennings,” says Talbot. “He asked me to come on board and when I read this script I was just like, there is no way I’m passing this up. It’s just such a beautiful thing.”

Talbot’s favorite composition was the one he penned for Witherspoon’s character, Rosita the pig, a frustrated, stay-at-home housewife with 25 piglets who longs to launch a singing career.

“There’s one for the bit where Rosita rigs up her whole house with this crazy invention to be able to feed the kids so she can go off and do the show, and I did this whole really kind of over-the-top, big orchestral number for that which I was really proud of,” said Talbot.

Welsh newcomer Taron Egerton, who plays Johnny the gorilla in the film, said that what attracted him to the role was Johnny’s determination to forge a different career path than his criminal dad.

“Johnny the gorilla is from the wrong side of the tracks,” said Egerton. “His dad is a bank robber, and, although he loves him very much, he’s trying to coax him into going down the same path that he has—he wants him to be the getaway driver for his gang. Johnny doesn’t want to do this. He just wants to sing.”

“Sing” is a movie “about real people who you really root for and really want the best for,” added Talbot.

“It’s about people pulling together and looking out for one another,” he continued. “And it’s about friendship and love and it’s just a beautiful message.”

Following the film, lucky guests were treated to a surprise concert by select cast members. McFarlane crooned Bing Crosby’s “Pennies from Heaven,” Tori Kelly performed a jazzy rendition of Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing,” before she teamed up with Hudson on Leonard Cohen’s haunting and beautiful “Hallelujah.” Wonder also performed a medley that included bits from “Superstition” and “Sir Duke,” and Hudson later brought down the house with her deeply soulful, melancholic rendition of The Beatles’ 1969 Abbey Road track “Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End.”

At the “Sing” after-party, guests had their choice of hotdogs, tater tots, baked ziti, Caesar salad, and an assortment of cupcakes, cookies and sweets. A make-your-own “Sing” character t-shirt station, balloons galore, karaoke and dancing kept both kids and adults entertained for hours.

“Sing” bows Dec. 21.

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