Photo Flash: Inside the Sondheim Award Gala Honoring Audra McDonald

On March 4, 2019, Audra McDonald received Signature's tenth 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.

"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."

Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple, The Widows), Norm Lewis (Porgy & Bess, Sondheim on Sondheim), Heidi Blickenstaff (Something Rotten!, [title of show]), Tracy Lynn Olivera (Signature's A Little Night Music, Titanic) and Nova Y. Payton (Signature's Ain't Misbehavin',Dreamgirls) performed to honor Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Audra McDonald.

This spring's Gala was chaired by Tori Thomas Winkler and also honored U.S. Representative Don Beyer and Megan Beyer 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.

Photo Credit: Cameron Whitman

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