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Sondheim the Softie

Bernadette Peters and Stephen Sondheim at Signature's Sondheim Award Gala on Monday night. (Russ Hirshon)

Things we learned at Signature Theatre's first Sondheim Award dinner Monday night:

  • Stephen Sondheim is a real softie -- the legendary composer wiped his eyes as Eleasha Gamble performed two of his favorite songs: "Home" from "The Wiz" and "My Man's Gone Now" from "Porgy and Bess."

  • Bernadette Peters is ... 61. (We lost the bet.) The living kewpie doll still looks amazing: red curls, curvy figure, no visible wrinkles.

  • Since founding Signature 20 years ago, artistic director Eric Schaeffer has produced 18 Sondheim musicals, more than any other theater in the country.

  • The composer, 79, accepted the first Sondheim Award by urging that it be given not to just the "venerable folk" but promising young artists as well: "I think awards should be like manure -- spread around to make things grow."

  • By The Reliable Source  |  April 29, 2009; 1:00 AM ET
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