Cynthia Erivo, Heidi Blickenstaff, More Pay Tribute to Audra McDonald at 10th Stephen Sondheim Award Gala

Benefits and Galas   Cynthia Erivo, Heidi Blickenstaff, More Pay Tribute to Audra McDonald at 10th Stephen Sondheim Award Gala
The Broadway-bound McDonald is celebrated at Signature Theatre’s benefit March 4.
Cynthia Erivo, Hedi Blickenstaff, and Audra McDonald
Cynthia Erivo, Hedi Blickenstaff, and Audra McDonald

Virginia’s Signature Theatre honors six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald with the company’s tenth Stephen Sondheim Award March 4 at a black-tie gala at the Embassy of Italy. The evening benefits Signature Theatre’s artistic, education, and community programs.

Performers for the evening include Tony winner Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple), Tony nominee Norm Lewis (Porgy and Bess), and [title of show]'s Heidi Blickenstaff as well as Helen Hayes Award winners Tracy Lynn Olivera and Nova Y. Payton.

Signature Theatre inaugurated the Stephen Sondheim Award in 2009 in recognition of the importance of Sondheim’s work to Signature and to theatre in general. The award is given to an individual for his or her career contributions to the American Musical Theatre along with interpreting, supporting, or collaborating on works by Sondheim.

Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald
Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald

“It is a great thrill to honor Audra and her amazing talents with this year’s Stephen Sondheim Award,” said Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer in an earlier statement. “Her contributions to the American musical theatre have had a major impact on many of our lives. Her performances are iconic. Her passion is true. And her kindness is real. We look forward to celebrating Audra with this special award.”

Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Harold Prince, Jonathan Tunick, James Lapine, John Weidman, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, and John Kander have previously been awarded the honor.

McDonald's myriad credits include Tony Award-winning performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. She has interpreted the work of Sondheim in the PBS concert stagings of Passion, Sweeney Todd, Sondheim! The Birthday Concert, and HBO’s Six by Sondheim and has recorded his music and lyrics on many of her solo albums. McDonald and two-time Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon will return to Broadway in May in a revival of Terrence McNally’s two-hander Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.

U.S. Representative Don Beyer of Virginia’s 8th Congressional District and Megan Beyer, journalist and activist, will be honored 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 D.C. community through their advocacy and passion for the arts and arts education.

This gala is chaired by Tori Winkler Thomas.

For more information contact Ashley Richardson, Donor Services Manager at (571) 527-1828 or


(Updated March 4, 2019)

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