Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Carol Burnett Honored with Signature Theatre's Sondheim Award
Carol Burnett received Signature Theatre's Sondheim Award at a gala event May 16 at Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia. The award, established in 2009, honors an individual for his or her career contributions to American musical theater along with interpreting, supporting, or collaborating on works by Stephen Sondheim.
Burnett received a Tony Award nomination for Putting It Together, a 1999 Broadway revue of Sondheim's works, and sang "I'm Still Here" as part of the 1985 Follies in Concert in New York City. She also featured Sondheim songs on her long-running television variety show.
The event began with a memorial tribute to Sondheim, who died in 2021 at age 91. Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, has been a leading producer of Sondheim's works throughout its 32 years of operation. Managing Director Maggie Boland noted at the event that Burnett was the last honoree to be selected personally by Sondheim; the award presentation was originally scheduled for 2020 but was delayed by COVID.
The program included performances and reminiscences by Tony Award recipients Bernadette Peters, a friend of Burnett's for more than 50 years, and Santino Fontana; songs from Burnett's career performed by Signature regulars Paul Scanlan, Rachel Zampelli, and Awa Sal Secka; and comments by musical parodist and political pundit Randy Rainbow about Burnett's influence on the culture and in his own life.
The program also recognized Merrill and Mark Shugoll, Washington philanthropists devoted to expanding audience access to the arts, with the J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award, named for an area arts leader. Their best-known program is ArtSpeak!, which has brought both national and local artists into public schools for the past 20 years.