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A Night Out: Signature Theatre’s Sondheim Gala

What: Signature Theatre’s Stephen Sondheim Award Inaugural Gala.

Where: The Italian Embassy.

When: Monday, April 27.

Cost: $600 and up.

Who: Theater icon Stephen Sondheim came down from New York to receive the first award in his name given by Signature Theatre. Although he normally avoids the spotlight, Sondheim has a special relationship with Signature and artistic director Eric Schaeffer, who has produced more than a dozen of Sondheim’s musicals. More than 300 people heard Bernadette Peters and Michael Cerveris—both of whom starred in Sondheim productions on Broadway—sing their salute to the composer and lyricist. The black-tie affair chaired by entertainment impresario Kenneth Feld and his wife, Bonnie, attracted theater supporters including honorary host Congressman James Moran and his wife, LuAnn Bennett.

Photographs by Chris Leaman. 

Scene: Getting there wasn’t half the fun—the embassy is on the same narrow street where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lives, and she was also entertaining last night. It was a case of dueling valet parkers. For theater lovers, the opportunity to rub shoulders with a Broadway legend was worth the hassle. Many of the guests were Signature patrons, including Maxine Isaacs, former Fannie Mae CEO James Johnson, builder Giuseppe Cecchi, and entrepreneur Stewart Bainum. The dress code: black-tie and short, shiny cocktail dresses. There was more décolletage than is seen at most Washington soirees—but that’s entertainment.

UPDATE: Signature has just won the 2009 Regional Theater Tony Award.  The Tony committee stated, “For 20 years, Signature has broadened and brightened the region’s cultural landscape with its bold productions of challenging new and established works….[Signature] has established a national reputation for giving some of the nation's most talented artists a place to do their best work before appreciative, knowledgeable audiences.” 

It's another reason for Signature to celebrate. 

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