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Michael Cerveris, Richard Maltby Jr. and More to Honor John Weidman with Signature's 2016 Stephen Sondheim Award

Just announced, Virginia's Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre will honor Broadway librettist John Weidman (ASSASSINS, PACIFIC OVERTURES, ROAD SHOW) with the company's seventh Stephen Sondheim Award on April 4, 2016.

The award, established in 2009 in honor of America's most influential musical theater writer and composer, will be presented at a black-tie Gala Benefit at the Embassy of Italy. The Sondheim Award Gala will benefit Signature Theatre's artistic, education, and community programs.

"Signature Theatre is honored to add John Weidman to the list of recipients of The Stephen Sondheim Award," says Signature Theatre Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. "John's collaborations with Stephen Sondheim have been groundbreaking in both their forms and subjects. John's boldness and innovation continues to inspire many young writers today. This is also the perfect time to celebrate John's partnership with Sondheim as we bring a new production of ROAD SHOW to Washington this month. We look forward to saluting him at the Embassy of Italy with his Broadway colleagues."

Tony Award-winners Michael Cerveris (FUN HOME, ASSASSINS, ROAD SHOW), Richard Maltby Jr. (MISS SAIGON, AIN'T MISBEHAVIN', BIG), Marsha Norman ('NIGHT, MOTHER, THE COLOR PURPLE) and Karen Ziemba (CONTACT, STEEL PIER) will join Helen Hayes Award-winner Jacquelyn Piro Donovan (Signature's WITCHES OF EASTWICK, 110 IN THE SHADE) to honor the renowned Stephen Sondheim collaborator.

John Weidman's collaboration with Stephen Sondheim began in 1976 with PACIFIC OVERTURES and continued with ASSASSINS in 1990 and ROAD SHOW in 2008. Mr. Weidman also collaborated with Susan Stroman on the Tony Award-winning musical CONTACT. From 1999 to 2009 he served as President of the Dramatists Guild of America and has won over a dozen Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Children's Program for his work on Sesame Street since 1986.

Signature is thrilled to salute the HRH Foundation as the lead sponsor of the 2016 Signature Theatre Sondheim Award Gala. Helen Lee Henderson, Executive Director of the HRH Foundation, is once again the event chair this year, building on her successful leadership of the 2015 Gala. "I am very proud to support the celebration of John Weidman and his astonishing collaborations with Stephen Sondheim," says Helen Henderson. "Signature is an organization richly deserving of our community's support, and it is my sincere honor to be selected to chair for this important event that supports the excellent theatrical productions and outstanding education programs of the award-winning Signature Theatre."

John Weidman has written the books for a wide variety of musicals, among them PACIFIC OVERTURES (Tony Award nomination, Best Book), ASSASSINS (Tony Award, Best Musical Revival), and ROAD SHOW (Lucille Lortel nomination, Best Musical), all with scores by Stephen Sondheim; CONTACT (Tony Award nomination, Best Book; Tony Award, Best Musical), co-created with director/choreographer Susan Stroman; HAPPINESS, score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman; TAKE FLIGHT and BIG (Tony Award nomination, Best Book), scores by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire; and the new book, co-authored with Timothy Crouse, for the Lincoln Center Theater/Roundabout Theatre revivals of Cole Porter's ANYTHING GOES (Tony Awards, Best Musical Revival; Olivier Award, Best Musical Production). Since his children were pre-schoolers, Weidman has written for SESAME STREET, receiving more than a dozen Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Children's Program. From 1999 to 2009 he served as President of the Dramatists Guild of America.

In 2009, Signature Theatre inaugurated The Stephen Sondheim Award in recognition of the importance of Mr. Sondheim's work to Signature and to theatre in general. In April 2010 the first award was given to stage, screen, and television actress Angela Lansbury. In 2011, Tony Award-winning actress and singer Bernadette Peters received the award. In 2012, the award went to Tony Award-winner Patti LuPone. In 2013, the award was given to legendary Broadway director and producer Harold "Hal" Prince. In 2014, the award went to longtime Sondheim collaborator and orchestrator Jonathan Tunick and last year's celebration paid tribute to longtime Sondheim collaborator and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright James Lapine.

The Award is given on a yearly basis to an individual for his or her career contributions to interpreting, supporting, and collaborating on Stephen Sondheim's music works. To date, Signature has presented 25 Stephen Sondheim productions, more than any other theatre in the United States. In 2002, Signature's Eric Schaeffer was the Artistic Director of "The Sondheim Celebration" at The Kennedy Center.

Table sponsorship for the 2016 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 Nathan Alston, Development Manager at (571) 527-1828 or events@sigtheatre.org.

Recipient of the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award, Signature Theatre is a non-profit professional theater company in Arlington, Virginia dedicated to producing contemporary musicals and plays, reinventing classic musicals, and developing new work. Under the leadership of co-founder and Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland, Signature has presented 44 world premiere productions and is renowned for combining Broadway-quality productions with intimate playing spaces.

In addition to hosting the finest talent from the DC metropolitan area and New York, Signature has been home to such luminaries as Chita Rivera, Sheryl Crow, Barry Levinson, George Hearn, Hunter Foster, Emily Skinner, Kathleen Marshall, Ann Reinking, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cameron Mackintosh, Terrence McNally, and the company's signature composer, Stephen Sondheim. Since its founding in 1989, Signature has won 94 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in the Washington, DC region's professional theater and has been honored with 386 nominations.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride



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