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Signature Theatre's Stephen Sondheim Young Artist Citation Goes to William Yanesh

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

William Yanesh, a Washington DC-based composer (Adventure Theatre MTC's CAPS FOR SALE), orchestrator (Shakespeare Theatre's MAN OF LA MANCHA) and musical director (Signature's THE LAST FIVE YEARS) will be honored with the Stephen Sondheim Young Artist Citation.

This special honor was made part of the Stephen Sondheim Award Gala in 2009 at the request of Sondheim, to encourage exceptional young talent in the field of musical theater. Yanesh was the Associate Conductor of Signature's WEST SIDE STORY and conducted Signature's ELMER GANTRY. His musical CAPS FOR SALE was recently produced Off-Broadway at the New Victory Theater.

"Signature is pleased to recognize William Yanesh with this year's Young Artist Citation for our 2016 Sondheim Award Gala," says Signature Theatre Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. "Bill has played in a number of our orchestras as well as conducted - most recently being Associate Conductor for our acclaimed production of West Side Story. As a composer, his works have been featured on Washington DC's stages as well. His artistry is an asset to Signature and this city."

Previous winners of the Stephen Sondheim Young Artist Citation have included actor Patrick Thomas Cragin (Signature's Hairspray), composer Peter Lerman (Vinyard Theatre's Brooklynite), musical director/arranger Gabriel Mangiante (Signature's The Threepenny Opera), composer David Austin (Signature's Beaches), composer Nick Blaemire (Broadway's Glory Days), and composer/musical director Darius Smith (Signature's Soon).

Signature is thrilled to salute the HRH Foundation and its Executive Director Helen Lee Henderson as the lead sponsor of the 2016 Signature Theatre Sondheim Award Gala.

William Yanesh's compositions include music and lyrics for Adventure Theatre MTC's Caps for Sale, which toured nationally and was produced Off-Broadway; music for The Astronomer, premiered by The Capital Hearings; as well as incidental music for productions at ATMTC and Red Knight Productions. His orchestrations were heard in Shakespeare Theatre Company's Man of La Mancha and ATMTC's Miss Nelson is Missing. He was the Associate Conductor of Signature Theatre's West Side Story and conducted Signature's Elmer Gantry. Music direction credits include Signature's The Last Five Years (Helen Hayes nomination, Outstanding Music Direction); The Nutcracker and Ordinary Days at Round House Theatre; Caps for Sale, Oliver!, Garfield, Miss Nelson is Missing, Good Night Moon, and Winnie-the-Pooh at ATMTC. Education: Bachelor of Music Composition from Carnegie Mellon University. Upcoming: Floyd Collins at 1st Stage.

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

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.

Pictured: William Yanesh. Photo by Christopher Mueller.

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