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Kate McKinnon and Ariana DeBose perform botched ‘West Side Story’ mash-up on 'SNL'

The pair brought the magic of Broadway to the “Saturday Night Live” stage.
Kate McKinnon and host Ariana DeBose during the Monologue on Saturday, January 15, 2022.
Kate McKinnon and host Ariana DeBose during the "SNL" opening monologue on Jan. 15, 2022.Will Heath / NBC
/ Source: TODAY

Ariana DeBose kicked off her first time hosting “Saturday Night Live” with possibly the best musical monologue ever performed on the show.

As she was introduced to the crowd, the actor and singer strutted and danced her way onto the “SNL” stage and dazzled in an all-silver ensemble. 

“2022 has already been an exciting year. I am hosting ‘SNL’ and I won a Golden Globe for my role as Anita in West Side Story,” she announced to the audience amidst roaring applause.”

She added, “It is great to be here representing not only the Latino community as an Afro-Latino, but also the Broadway community.”

Speaking of her theater background, DeBose wanted to bring Broadway’s “magical” ability to unite people to the show.  “Maybe a little ‘West Side Story?’” she asked the crowd before “SNL” star Kate McKinnon crashed the monologue. 

“Did I hear sing songs from ‘West Side Story’ with Kate McKinnon?” she said before joking that she hasn’t actually seen the reboot featuring DeBose. 

After DeBose suggested the pair sing a few songs from the musical together, two stools were brought out for their duet.  “Tonight, tonight, it all began tonight. I saw you and the world went away,” DeBose crooned. 

McKinnon briefly praised the impressive vocals before she showed off her singing skills as well.  “I’ve been on Broadway,” McKinnon replied when DeBose complimented her. “Yeah, like the sidewalk.”

Kate McKinnon and host Ariana DeBose during the Monologue on Saturday, January 15, 2022.
Kate McKinnon and host Ariana DeBose.Will Heath / NBC

The duo then switched up the tempo to belt to “I Feel Pretty.” They shared a fist bump after the line, “I feel pretty and witty and gay.” 

Truly giving her all for the performance, McKinnon started flailing her legs while spinning on her chair for her verses which made both of them laugh.

DeBose also put her Mambo moves on display before they sang a few other tracks like “America.” They concluded the performance by beautifully harmonizing on the final note in “Tonight Quintet.” 

Later in the episode, which included Bleachers as the musical guest, DeBose and McKinnon reunited for another funny sketch inspired by “The Sound of Music.” 

The skit opened with a title card that said, “Austria, 1938.” Taking on the role of Julie Andrews’ character Maria, McKinnon explained that she made the von Trapps perfect and now she is ready to help another family. However, McKinnon said someone else will have to step in because “between concerts and puppet shows and fleeing the Nazis I’m already stretched quite thin.”

DeBose spun into frame as the children’s new governess and seemed to sing the well-known line “the hills are alive.” However, she clarifies she actually meant, “The hills are alive and do not go out there.” 

For the rest of the hilarious sketch, DeBose continued to alter the lyrics from the 1965 musical drama. 

“Doh, a thing that Homer Simpson says, ‘Ray,’ a movie with Jamie Foxx,” she began before asking the children to join in. “SNL”’s Bowen Yang chimed in with “Doe, the last name of a body found in a river” and co-star Chris Redd ended the song with “Fah like the end of Queen Latifah.”

Kenan Thompson, who played the father of the children, emerged and shared that his lyrics were inspired by his love for fast food. 

The entire group sang about fast food before the “New Governess” skit ended.