One of her early big breaks on the road to stardom came on the New York stage, so it’s perhaps fitting that Carol Burnett is set to be honored by Signature Theatre.
The versatile and beloved performer will be presented with Signature’s Stephen Sondheim Award during a May 16 gala event initially slated for 2020 but postponed due to COVID.
The award, first presented to its namesake in 2009, is given for career contributions to the American musical theater, and for the recipients’ connections to the work and spirit of Sondheim.
Burnett in 1999 appeared in the Broadway production of “Putting It Together,” a revue featuring the works of Sondheim that was directed by Eric Schaeffer, then Signature’s artistic director.
But it was four decades earlier – in 1959 – that Burnett, having moved to New York from California, got her big break with a starring role in the musical-comedy “Once Upon a Mattress.” The show opened Off-Broadway but later transferred to Broadway; Burnett received a Tony nomination in the Best Actress Category for her work on it.
(After leaving the show, Burnett was succeeded in the role by veteran character actress Ann B. Davis, who would go on to achieve something of television immortality herself as Alice the housekeeper in “The Brady Bunch.”)
Burnett’s later career focused on television, films and concerts/personal appearances that continue today, but she returned to Broadway in 1995 in “Moon Over Buffalo” and again in 2014 in “Love Letters.”
The gala will be the first held since the death of Sondheim at 91 last November. Previous recipients of the accolade include Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPoone, Hal Prince, Jonathan Tunick, James Lapine, John Wiedman, Cameron Mackintosh, John Kander and Audra McDonald.
Tickets to the black-tie event are $1,200, with sponsorship packages available. For information, see the Website at www.sigtheatre.org.
Funds will support the operating and outreach efforts of the Arlington-based regional theater.