Inside Signature Theatre’s Sondheim Award Gala

On March 4, 2019, Audra McDonald received Signature Theatre’s Stephen Sondheim Award at a black-tie Gala Benefit at the Embassy of Italy. The award, established in 2009 in honor of America’s most influential musical theater writer and composer, benefits Signature’s artistic, education and community programs.

Alyse Nelson, Nina Easton and Audrey Henson. Photo by Cameron Whitman

“Three of the ten annual Signature Theater’s Stephen Sondheim Awards have been given to women: Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone,” said Stephen Sondheim. “Coincidently, I’d worked with each of them four times, although Signature assured me that that was not a requirement. So this year’s recipient is Audra MacDnald, a woman with whom I’ve worked – four times. Any composer who’s had the privilege of having Audra MacDonald sing their work even once is lucky. I’m very lucky.”

Lynda J. Robb, David Pryorand Megan Beyer. Photo by Cameron Whitman

Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple, The Widows), Norm Lewis (Porgy & BessSondheim on Sondheim), Heidi Blickenstaff (Something Rotten![title of show]), Tracy Lynn Olivera (Signature’s A Little Night MusicTitanic) and Nova Y. Payton (Signature’s Ain’t Misbehavin’Dreamgirls) performed to honor Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner McDonald, who was visibly moved to tears when receiving the award.

Christopher Mueller, Marybeth Fraser and Mark G. Meadows. Photo by Cameron Whitman

“Hold on to the arts, support the arts, protect the arts!” McDonald said upon receiving the honor. “They show us our humanity and they’re the only thing that will get us through these difficult times.”

In addition to honoring McDonald — and U.S. Representative Don Beyer and Megan Beyer with the inaugural J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award — this year’s Gala raised more money than any other event in Signature Theatre history. The Gala directly benefits Signature’s artistic, education and community programs.

Add Comment