Virginia’s Signature Theatre’s 2020 Stephen Sondheim Award Gala, which had been set for April 6 at the Embassy of Italy, has been rescheduled to June 29 as organizations around the country make similar decisions in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This year's gala will honor Emmy winner Carol Burnett with the 11th annual Stephen Sondheim Award.
“We are excited to honor Carol Burnett but feel that it is in the best interest of our guests to move the event to the summer,” said Signature Theatre Managing Director Maggie Boland in a statement. “I am deeply grateful to our honoree, our performers, and the Gala’s Presenting Sponsor The Boeing Company, as well as our fantastic event partners…. Their flexibility and true partnership have made this change both financially and logistically possible. We all look forward to celebrating a true legend with a fantastic event in June.”
Previously announced to lead the celebration were Tony winners Kristin Chenoweth and Santino Fontana, who were to be joined by Signature alums and Helen Hayes Award winners Tracy Lynn Olivera, Nova Y. Payton, and Bobby Smith.
The award is given to an individual for career contributions to American musical theatre, along with interpreting, supporting, or collaborating on works by Sondheim. Previous recipients include Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Harold Prince, Jonathan Tunick, James Lapine, John Weidman, Cameron Mackintosh, John Kander, and Audra McDonald.
“Carol Burnett is an American icon, and it’s so fitting for her to receive the Stephen Sondheim Award,” said Signature Theatre Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer in an earlier statement. “With her love of musical theatre both on the stage and on her own show, she has brought the arts to millions of people through her comedy and artistry. We look forward to celebrating her extraordinary career this spring.”
Burnett, who was awarded a Special Tony Award in 1969, was nominated for Tonys for her performances in Once Upon a Mattress and Moon Over Buffalo. She has also been seen on Broadway in Fade Out-Fade In, the Stephen Sondheim revue Putting It Together, Hollywood Arms, and Love Letters. She is also a 22-time Emmy Award winner and known for her television variety show The Carol Burnett Show.
Boeing’s Executive Vice President of Government Operations Timothy Keating and his wife Ann Keating will also be honored with the inaugural J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award. The award was established to honor leaders who have made an impact in the greater D.C. community through their advocacy and passion for the arts and arts education.