Chita Rivera, as previously reported, will be honored with Signature Theatre's 12th Stephen Sondheim Award, which recognizes individuals who have made important contributions to the American musical theatre. The Washington, D.C.-area theatre will bestow the honor at a black-tie Gala Benefit at the Embassy of Italy April 3, with proceeds benefitting the theatre.
Newly announced for the evening are a host of performers who will pay tribute to the Broadway icon: Tony winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Jessie Mueller as well as Signature favorites Austin Colby, Natascia Diaz, Vincent Kempski, David Merino, Katie Mariko Murray, and Nova Y. Payton. Jon Kalbfleisch will be the piano accompanist.
"It felt appropriate to look towards the beginning of Mr. Sondheim’s accomplished career when selecting this year’s recipient of the Stephen Sondheim Award," said Signature Artistic Director Matthew Gardner in an earlier statement. "Ms. Rivera is perhaps best known for her iconic performance as Anita in West Side Story, the musical that marked Mr. Sondheim’s first foray onto the Broadway stage. We are thrilled to bestow this honor upon Ms. Rivera, who has long been a dear friend of Signature, having graced our stage in 2008 in The Visit. She now joins a distinguished group of honorees who have received this award over the past decade. We look forward to celebrating her storied career this spring with a festive and joyous evening at the Italian Embassy."
"Chita and my uncle, Fred Ebb, were dear friends, and she starred in one of the last musicals he wrote with John Kander, The Visit at Signature in 2008," added Gala Chair Cathy Bernard. "Uncle Fred and Chita celebrated Christmas together every year with my grandmother as a cherished family friend, and we are honored to have her as part of the Signature family and present her with the Sondheim Award in recognition of her legendary career. Chita is one of the true icons of Broadway and the American musical theatre, and we are fortunate to be able to celebrate her achievements and immense talent.”
Rivera won Tony Awards for her performances in The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman, and was also nominated for Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, Bring Back Birdie, Merlin, Jerry's Girls, Nine, her autobiographical The Dancer's Life, and, most recently, The Visit. With 10, she holds the record for the most Tony nominations earned by a single performer. Rivera was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Special Tony Award in 2018.
The gala will also celebrate Michelle S. Lee, founder, president, and CEO of STG International. Lee will be honored with The J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award for her support of the theatre and people throughout the region.
For more information, visit SigTheatre.org.