ALEXANDRIA, VA -On April 3, Virginia’s Tony Award®-winning Signature Theatre will honor theatrical icon Chita Rivera with the company’s 12th Stephen Sondheim Award at a black-tie gala benefit at the Embassy of Italy. The gala will benefit Signature Theatre’s artistic, education, and community programs.
Signature’s Sondheim Award Gala honors individuals who have made important contributions to American musical theatre. This spring, Signature is thrilled to celebrate the legendary Chita Rivera, one of Broadway’s greatest triple-threat talents. Her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway production of West Side Story brought her stardom and launched a storied career.
Ms. Rivera is among the most nominated performers in Tony® Award history, having earned ten nominations and three awards. Her most recent nomination was in 2015 for The Visit, the final collaboration between John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Terrence McNally, for the role she previously played to great acclaim at Signature in 2008.
Paying tribute to Ms. Rivera with live performances will be Tony Award-winning Broadway stars Brian Stokes Mitchell (Broadway’s Shuffle Along and Ragtime) and Jessie Mueller (Broadway’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and Waitress), as well as beloved Signature artists Austin Colby (West Side Story), Natascia Diaz (West Side Story), Vincent Kempski (Into the Woods), David Merino (Into the Woods), Katie Mariko Murray (Into the Woods), and Nova Y. Payton (Into the Woods).
In addition to honoring Chita Rivera, Signature will celebrate Michelle S. Lee, founder, president, & CEO of STG International, Inc., with the J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award for her leadership and support for Signature and for making a difference in the lives of people throughout the region.
The Stephen Sondheim Award
Signature Theatre inaugurated the Stephen Sondheim Award in 2009 to recognize the importance of Mr. Sondheim’s work to Signature and theatre in general. The award is given to an individual for their career contributions to American musical Theater along with interpreting, supporting, or collaborating on works by Sondheim.
Previous award recipients have included Angela Lansbury (2010), Bernadette Peters (2011), Patti LuPone (2012), Harold “Hal” Prince (2013), Jonathan Tunick (2014), James Lapine (2015), John Weidman (2016), Sir Cameron Mackintosh (2017), John Kander (2018), Audra McDonald (2019) and Carol Burnett (2022). By the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, Signature will have produced 34 Stephen Sondheim productions, more than any other theatre in the United States.
The J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award
The J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award honors community leaders who have made an extraordinary impact in the greater DC community through their passion and advocacy for theater and arts education. The award is made in memory of J. Watkins, a long-time Signature Board Member, an essential part of the Sondheim Award Gala leadership team, and a tremendous ambassador for Signature and the arts in our community.
Signature Theatre is a Tony Award®-winning regional theater that broadens and brightens the region’s cultural landscape with bold productions of challenging new and established works and engaging education and outreach programs. Founded in 1989 by Eric Schaeffer and Donna Migliaccio and currently under the leadership of Managing Director Maggie Boland and Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner, musical theater is Signature’s “signature.” The theatre is renowned for its definitive Sondheim productions, inventive adaptations of overlooked or forgotten works, and investment in fresh new projects.
The 2023 Sondheim Award Gala will be chaired by Cathy Bernard. More information can be found at SigTheatre.org/SondheimGala. Table sponsorship ranges from $12,000 to $100,000 and includes rewarding, year-long visibility and entertainment benefits. Individual tickets are $1,200. Specific safety protocols for the 2023 gala will be in compliance with future conditions. For information about sponsorship and tickets, contact Ashley Richardson, Donor Services Manager, at 571-527-1828 or [email protected].