Sondheim Award Gala

Honoring six-time Tony Award® Winner

Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald

And presenting the inaugural J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award to

Congressman Don Beyer and Mrs. Megan Beyer

Monday, March 4, 2019
Embassy of Italy

3000 Whitehaven Street NW
Washington, DC 20008

6:00PM Cocktails

7:00PM Seated Dinner and Award Presentation
With special performances by Tony®, Emmy® and Grammy® Award winner Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) and Broadway star Heidi Blickenstaff (Something Rotten, Disney’s Freaky Friday) and beloved Signature artists Tracy Lynn Olivera (A Little Night Music) and Nova Y. Payton (Ain’t Misbehavin’).

Black Tie Event
Complimentary Valet Parking
Photo ID Required For Entry

Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actor. The winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Emmy Award, she received a 2015 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama and was also named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people that year. Tony-winning performances include Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill – which served as the vehicle for her Olivier-nominated 2017 West End debut. On television, McDonald is known for her roles in ABC’s Private Practice and NBC’s The Sound of Music Live!, and she won an Emmy as the official host of PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center. She can currently be seen as Liz Lawrence on CBS All Access’ The Good Fight, which launches its third season in spring 2019. Recent film credits include Ricki and the Flash, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, and movie-musical Hello Again. The Juilliard-trained soprano also maintains a major career as a concert and recording artist. Her latest solo album, Sing Happy, was recorded live with the New York Philharmonic for Decca Gold. Of all her many roles, her favorites are the ones performed offstage: passionate advocate for equal rights and homeless youth, wife to actor Will Swenson, and mother.

Photo of Audra McDonald by Allison Michael Orenstein


Individual Tickets and Sponsorships

$1,000 Individual Sponsorship Level (1 person)

$5,000 Silver Level Sponsorship (5 people/ half table)

$10,000 Gold Level Sponsorship (10 people/ 1 table)

$25,000 Platinum Level Sponsorship (10 people/ premier table)

$50,000 Diamond Level Sponsorship (20 people/ 2 premier tables)

Click below for additional information about sponsorship opportunities.

Sondheim Award Gala Reservation Form

Gala Chair

Tori Winkler Thomas

Platinum Sponsors

The Boeing Company
Bonnie Feld
GEICO
Craig Pascal and Victor Shargai
Susan C. Schwab, Chip DiPaula and Friends
Ted and Mary Jo Shen
J. Watkins’ Design and Bradley Frey

Gold Sponsors

Ann Bennett, Dottie Bennett and Richard Morton
Mike Blank
Chevy Chase Trust/Deb Gandy
Michael DeSantis and Patrick Baugh
Frank Guzzetta and Paul Manville
Thomas Hesselbrock and Carl Spatz
Lisa Kountoupes
Maryland Oral Surgery Associates
Peter and Mary Jay Michel
Patricia Payne and Nancy Firestone
Beth Pile
Diana Richman and Jim Abellera
H. Mac and Michele-Anne Riley
Doug and Kathie Ross
Diana and Peter Schaefer
Peter and Ann Tanous
Jeffery Thurston and Charley Berardesco
Maya Weil

Silver Sponsors

John Benton and David Briggs
Disney Theatrical Productions
Alan J. Savada and Will Stevenson
Russ Schriefer and Nina Easton


Signature’s annual Sondheim Award Gala honors those who have contributed to the works of Stephen Sondheim and the canon of American musical theater. The Sondheim Award Gala benefits Signature’s artistic, education, and community outreach programs.

The Gala takes place at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC, and is a festive evening that includes cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a gourmet seated dinner, and a delicious dessert buffet. Each year, the honoree receives a special award presentation that includes tribute performances by notable Broadway and Signature artists.

The J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award honors community leaders who have made an extraordinary impact in the greater DC community through their passion and advocacy for the arts and arts education. The award is made in memory of J. Watkins, a long time Signature Board Member, an important part of the Sondheim Award Gala leadership team, and a tremendous ambassador for Signature and the arts in our community.


Past Recipients

2010 Angela Lansbury
2011 Bernadette Peters
2012 Patti LuPone
2013 Harold “Hal” Prince
2014 Jonathan Tunick
2015 James Lapine
2016 John Weidman
2017 Cameron Mackintosh
2018 John Kander