Video: Nathan Lane Receives the Stephen Sondheim Award from Signature Theatre

Watch an excerpt from Lane's acceptance speech.

By: May. 13, 2024
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On April 29, 2024, Virginia’s Signature Theatre honored star of stage and screen Nathan Lane with the company’s thirteenth Stephen Sondheim Award. Watch an excerpt from Lane's acceptance speech in this all-new video.

"I don't know if I deserve this award. I retired from musical theater a while ago... and jokes aside, I'm not sure what my contribution was other than trying to keep it alive - and doing my best to uphold its traditions, and honor and enjoy the form following in the footsteps of those great performers who came before me and who were such an influence. I do know, it's the hardest genre to pull off." said Lane.

"But when it does work, it all seems to be coming from one voice or vision and everyone seems to have been on the same page -  if you'll pardon the expression - telling the same story. Once in a while, all the right people come together at the right time with the right idea and you get a Gypsy, or a Guy's and Dolls, or a Sweeney Todd or The Producers, but that is a rare and difficult thing to achieve."

"That's why there aren't that many truly great musicals, but when it does work, when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, it's a glorious thing." he concluded.

Some of Nathan's fondest friends and colleagues turned out for the event, including former co-stars Faith Prince and Krysta Rodriguez, along with Tony-winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman and more.

A frequent collaborator with Stephen Sondheim, Lane won his first Tony Award for his performance in the 1996 revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. After winning a second Tony Award in 2001 for The Producers, Lane revised the book and starred in the 2004 Broadway debut of Sondheim's The Frogs. In addition to his award-winning performances onstage, Nathan Lane is best known for his onscreen work in The Birdcage, his Emmy Award-winning performance in Hulu's Only Murders in the Building, and his voice work as Timon in Disney's beloved film The Lion King.

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. 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), Carol Burnett (2022), and Chita Rivera (2023).

The award, established in 2009, is given to an individual for his or her career contributions to the American Musical Theater along with interpreting, supporting, or collaborating on works by Sondheim. Signature has produced 34 total Stephen Sondheim productions, more than any other theatre in the United States.

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