The evening also honored Catholic University of America senior Patrick Thomas Cragin with the 2010 Sondheim Award Gala “Young Artist Citation.” Cragin participated in the starry tribute performance to Lansbury, performing “Younger Than Springtime,” written by Sondheim’s mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Richard Rodgers for South Pacific.
Signature Theatre regular Sherri L. Edelen sang “Some People” from , which won Lansbury her third Tony Award and marked her second appearance in a Sondheim musical. Edelen also sang the Gershwin standard “A Foggy Day,” the song Lansbury sang at her first audition for Sondheim.
From Sweeney Todd, which won Lansbury her fourth Tony Award and Sondheim another one as well, Jason Danieley performed “Not While I’m Around” and “Pretty Women,” the latter in duet with Victor Garber, who played Anthony to Lansbury’s Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney’s original production.
From Anyone Can Whistle, Lansbury and Sondheim’s first collaboration, Garber sang the title song and Marin Mazzie performed “There Won’t Be Trumpets.” Mazzie also sang the Kern-Hammerstein standard “All the Things You Are,” which is Lansbury’s favorite song and is from Very Warm for May, the first musical Sondheim ever saw.
The evening was staged by Signature’s artistic director, Eric Schaffer. Lansbury’s A Little Night Music co-star, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and fellow Sondheim interpreters Bernadette Peters and Michael Cerveris were three of the evening’s honorary hosts.
The benefit raised $350,000 toward Signature’s artistic, education and outreach programs.
Here is a video of Sondheim presenting the award, Lansbury’s emotional acceptance speech, and closing remarks by Schaffer:
— Thomas Peter