all words and photos: Rachel Eisley

“Well-heeled” only begins to describe the crowd at Signature Theater’s gala fundraiser held at the Italian Embassy last week.


Honoring the lifetime theatrical career of Bernadette Peters who in addition to film acting has starred in many of Steven Sondheim’s broadway musicals including Gypsy and Into the Woods, receiving the Best Actress Tony Award for her roles in Annie Get Your Gun and Song and Dance. Peters sat front and center, enjoying dinner and the stage performances which featured Washington area starlets further honoring the legacy of both Sondheim and Peters through musical solos and duets of Sondheim’s more memorable songs.


At an unbelievable 62 years old, Peters sashayed across the stage to accept her award to thunderous applause wearing a one-shouldered green taffeta dress with an asymmetric ruffle which perfectly set off her cascading auburn curls.

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Although access to the stage was limited for photographers and the crowd thronged busily after the lengthy program ended to beeline for the buffet of Italian desserts, I managed to capture Peters making an early exit from the embassy into an impressive stretch limo after schmoozing with the event’s heavy hitters (and no tiramisu for her, perhaps that’s how she’s kept her impressive figure…)


The line for the complementary valet parking proved one of the most entertaining aspects of the evening as the uncharacteristically balmy weather and unpredictably long wait for retrieved vehicles brought bouts of humor and commentary from the event patrons.   The first car to be summoned and then retrieved was not claimed for at least an hour, a honda odyssey, which was ironically followed by no shortage of luxury convertibles and sedans.  Who owned the Odysessy became a hot item of discussion lending a somewhat silly conclusion making good on the elegant evening celebrating Peters, Sondheim and the legacy of the Signature Theater.

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