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Posted at 07:00 PM ET, 04/12/2011

Signature Theatre’s lovefest for Bernadette Peters

Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters and Signature Theatre’s Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer at the Sondheim Award gala Monday night at the Italian Embassy. (Russell Hirshon/ Signature Theatre)

Washington’s crush on Bernadette Peters kicked off Monday night at Signature Theatre’s Stephen Sondheim Award gala. The Tony-award winning actress, 63, will be in D.C. for the next three months: She just started rehearsals for the Kennedy Center’s revival of “Follies” and was honored by Signature for her roles in six Sondheim musicals. “I love her work and I love her,” said the composer, who got a little verklempt when he presented the award. The black-tie crowd at the Italian embassy included “Follies” castmate Linda Lavin, NEA Chair Rocco Landesman, producer George Stevens, and donors Helen Henderson, Adrienne Arsht, Maxine Isaacs and Victor Shargai.

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