Cynthia Erivo and Heidi Blickenstaff to Perform at Gala Honoring Audra McDonald

Cynthia Erivo and Heidi Blickenstaff to Perform at Gala Honoring Audra McDonald

On March 4, 2019 Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winner Audra McDonald will receive the 2019 Stephen Sondheim Award, to be presented 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. Broadway stars Cynthia Erivo and Heidi Blickenstaff will perform in Audra's honor along with Washington's own Tracy Lynn Olivera and Nova Y. Payton. This spring's Gala is chaired by Tori Winkler Thomas.

Cynthia Erivo is the winner of the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Celie in The Color Purple. Mostly recently, Erivo starred in two major films for 20th Century Fox: Drew Goddard's "Bad Times at the El Royale" and Steve McQueen's "Widows." Upcoming, Erivo will be seen in Kasi Lemmons' "Harriet," where she will bring the legacy of Harriet Tubman to the big screen.

Heidi Blickenstaff is a New York based actress and singer best known for co-collaborating on the creation of the Broadway musical [title of show], as well as starring roles in numerous other Broadway musicals including Something Rotten!, The Addams Family, Disney's The Little Mermaid and The Full Monty. At Signature she starred in First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb which went on to have a revival at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a PBS TV Film. Blickenstaff also originated the role of Katherine Blake in the world premiere of the musical version of Disney's Freaky Friday at Signature Theatre in 2016, which was made into a 2018 Disney Channel TV Film where she co-starred with Cozi Zuehlsdorff. She won a special citations Obie Award in 2006.

The evening will also feature performances by Helen Hayes Award-winners Tracy Lynn Olivera (Signature's A Little Night Music, Titanic) and Nova Y. Payton (Signature's Ain't Misbehavin', Dreamgirls).

U.S. Representative Don Beyer of Virginia's 8th Congressional District and Megan Beyer, journalist and activist, will be honored with the inaugural J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award. The award was created to honor community leaders who've made an extraordinary impact in the greater DC community through their advocacy and passion for the arts and arts education. The award is made in memory of J. Watkins, a long time Signature board member, an important part of the Sondheim Award Gala leadership team, and a tremendous ambassador for Signature and the arts in our community.

Table sponsorship for the 2019 Sondheim Award Gala ranges from $10,000 to $100,000 and includes rewarding, year-long visibility and entertainment benefits. Individual tickets are $1,000. For more information about sponsorship and tickets contact Ashley Richardson, Donor Services Manager at (571) 527-1828 or

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