Actress Angela Lansbury will be the first recipient of the Stephen Sondheim Award from a Washington-area theater that has produced more of the composer's works than any other U.S. theater.
Signature Theatre announced Thursday that it will honor Lansbury, 84, in April at a gala celebration and fundraising event for the Arlington, Va., theater.
Lansbury is known to many for her role in television's "Murder She Wrote," when she played detective Jessica Fletcher for 12 seasons in the 1980s and 1990s.
She also is a five-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical star. Two of Lansbury's Tonys are for Sondheim musicals, the 1974 revival of "Gypsy" and "Sweeney Todd" in 1979.
Sondheim, 79, noted that Lansbury first appeared on the musical stage in "Anyone Can Whistle," for which he wrote the score in 1964.
"That appearance was a gift to the musical theater, although perhaps not such a gift to her, since the show only ran for nine performances," Sondheim said in a statement. "I am thrilled that Signature Theatre is helping me make it up to her by giving her the first Stephen Sondheim Award."
The theater, which has produced 18 of his works, created the award earlier this year to honor those who stand out for interpreting or collaborating on Sondheim's music.
Sondheim, who wrote the lyrics for "West Side Story" in 1957 and has won nine Tonys throughout his career, helps approve the recipients of the award.
Lansbury returns to Broadway this month in Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" costarring Catherine Zeta-Jones.