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'The Visit' on Broadway in 2015, starring Chita Rivera. Rivera starred in the musical at Signature Theatre in 2008. (Photo by Thom Kaine.)

Chita Rivera to Receive 2023 Stephen Sondheim Award

Signature Theatre in Virginia will present the award in April.

ARLINGTON, VA.: Signature Theatre has named Chita Rivera the recipient of the 2023 Stephen Sondheim Award. The award will be presented at an April gala at the Embassy of Italy, in a benefit for Signature’s artistic, education, and community programs.

“It felt appropriate to look toward the beginning of Mr. Sondheim’s accomplished career when selecting this year’s recipient of the Stephen Sondheim Award,” Signature Theatre artistic director Matthew Gardiner said in a statement. “Ms. Rivera is perhaps best known for her iconic performance as Anita in West Side Story, the musical that marked Mr. Sondheim’s first foray onto the Broadway stage.We are thrilled to bestow this honor upon Ms. Rivera, who has long been a dear friend of Signature.”

Signature’s Sondheim Award gala honors individuals who have made important contributions to American musical theatre. Rivera is one of the most nominated performers in the history of the Tony Awards, with 10 nominations and two wins. In 2015, she was nominated for her performance in the musical The Visit, which she performed at Signature in 2008. In 2018, Rivera was honored with the Tony Award for lifetime achievement. A versatile actor, singer, and dancer, Rivera received the Kennedy Center Honor in 2002, has performed at Carnegie Hall, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. She will release her book Chita: A Memoir with co-writer Patrick Pacheco in April.

Signature Theatre inaugurated the Stephen Sondheim Award in 2009. In addition to honoring Rivera, this year’s awards ceremony will honor Michelle S. Lee with the J. Watkins Distinguished Service Award for her impact on the greater Washington, D.C. community. Lee is the founder, president, and CEO of STG International, Inc.

Signature Theatre is a Tony Award-winning theatre company that broadens and brightens the capital region’s cultural landscape with productions and education and outreach programs. Signature is renowned for its inventive adaptations of overlooked or forgotten works and its investments in new projects.

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