Holmes, looking absolutely stunning, went from majestic city streets to stage as she performed her rendition of Judy Garland’s song "Get Happy" from the 1950s musical Summer Stock. PEOPLE was backstage after the show to get the reactions.
“Katie worked so hard and has been working hard and now it’s just her time to share her gifts with the world and inspire ,” gushed an elated Tyce Diorio, who directed and choreographed pal Holmes in the piece. “She’s so excited and thrilled and just over the moon about it and so am I,” he added, having spoken to her post-performance. “We went on this journey together and it’s wonderful to see it all come to fruition. And having Garland’s son in the audience to experience that, it all just felt so right, I’m so excited -- and I had a chance to direct!”
Everything came together with the help of judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe, director Adam Shankman and Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba who, along with Holmes, co-founded the Dizzy Feet Foundation, a nonprofit organization to help underprivileged and talented dancers gain access to dance education.
“I’m really delighted,” said Lythgoe. “This is someone who’s done this to get the press and publicity for the Dizzy Feet Foundation … - bless her! And I thought her voice was good. She’s not Judy Garland but as a complete package, I thought she was terrific!”
For little over a month, whispers of the performance circulated, and SYTYCD season four winner Joshua Allen, who actually dances in the number, says although it was difficult to keep everything secret the entire experience was worth it.
“Katie Holmes is a sweetheart. She’s the nicest person,” says Allen, “You would think, 'Oh, no, she doesn’t talk to anybody.’ She likes to converse, laugh, she bought us like different cookies and treats when we were on the set. And I met Tom Cruise. He’s awesome as well. They’re really, really nice. Just sweet nice .”
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The show’s host Cat Deeley, who sat down with Holmes prior to the performance, was impressed with her demeanor.
“I remember sitting down and interviewing her, I said, ‘Are you not terrified? Are you not scared out of your mind?’ ” recalls Deeley. “I was putting myself in her position. Because that’s not what the American public know her for. And she’s like, 'Actually, you know what, I’m really cool with it.’ She’s like, ‘you know what, no, I’m just going to go out there and have a really lovely time.’ And I think a really big thing to her was the whole Judy Garland connection and how fabulous she was. And I think she just really went with it.”
But Deeley also fondly remembers the Cruise family bond -- a camcorder-toting Cruise and an enthusiastic daughter Suri, showing some dance moves of her own in her “spinney dress.” "She was with Suri and Suri had her blamblet blanket,” says Deeley, “and just like any normal little girl she had her blamblet and she was down there and she rehearsed, and then Tom came down and he was using a camcorder like any proud dad who was just watching his wife do something really amazing. And he’d stand there talking to me, and Suri would be in his arms and she’d fall asleep with her blamblet wrapped around her and he’d carry on a conversation.”
But the best part for Deeley was seeing how Tom “was absolutely 100 percent supportive and took care of Suri. It was like a normal family just doing something that they were really proud of!” -- Jed Dreben