(Philadelphia, PA) Arden Theatre Company announces composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim as the first recipient of the new Master Storyteller Award. Sondheim will be present to accept the award at a ticketed award ceremony and concert, on Monday, June 1st, at a fundraising event that benefits the Arden’s extensive educational and outreach programs.

The event, held in the Arden’s F. Otto Haas Stage at 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, will celebrate the work and music of Mr. Sondheim. Guests will be treated to a concert featuring Mr. Sondheim’s work performed by Arden artists. Full cast and concert details to be released at a later date. Following the concert, guests will socialize during a cocktail reception in the Arden’s lobby.

“The Arden’s mission is to present the works of great stories by great storytellers,” remarks Producing Artistic Director, Terrence J. Nolen. “We have presented more Sondheim productions - 13 in our 27 year history - than any other artist. I can think of no one more appropriate to receive this award than Mr. Stephen Sondheim.”

“The Arden has always been the leading producer of my work in Philadelphia,” says composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. “No one knows better than I their passion and commitment to contemporary musical theatre. At a moment when so many larger organizations are producing traditional and anodyne shows in meek response to this time of economic uncertainty, it is heartening for every serious and experimental composer, lyricist and librettist to know that the Arden exists.” 

The Arden Theatre Company’s productions of Stephen Sondheim’s works include: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (2006), A Little Night Music (1995 & 2013), Assassins (2008), Company (1997), Into the Woods (2000), Merrily We Roll Along (1998), Pacific Overtures (2003), Passion (May, 2015), Sunday in the Park with George (1994 & 2010), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1993 & 2005). In the fall of 2008, they produced the Royal National Theatre’s version of Candide, with additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

The Master Storyteller Award will be presented every-other-year to an artist whose work exemplifies “master storytelling.” The recipient is chosen by the Master Storyteller Award Selection Committee, chaired by Arden Board Member Eileen Heisman.

Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for Road Show (2008, originally titled Bounce), Passion (1994), Assassins (1991), Into the Woods (1987), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), Pacific Overtures (1976), The Frogs (1974), A Little Night Music (1973), Follies (1971, revised in London 1987 and in New York 2001), Company (1970), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962); as well as lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), Do I Hear a Waltz (1965), and additional lyrics for Candide (1973).  Side by Side by Sondheim (1976), Marry Me a Little (1981), You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983), and Putting it Together (1992, 2000) are anthologies of his work.  For film he composed the scores for Stravinsky (1974) and Reds (1981) and songs for Dick Tracy (Academy Award, 1990).  He wrote the songs for television’s Evening Primrose (1966), co-authored the film The Last of Sheila (1973) and the play Getting Away with Murder (1966), and provided incidental music for the plays The Girls of Summer (1956), Invitation to a March (1961), and Twigs (1971).  He won Tony Awards® for Best Score of a Musical for Passion, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, A Little Night Music, Follies, (1971), and Company.  All of these shows won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, as did Pacific Overtures and Sunday in the Park with George, the latter also receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1985).  Mr. Sondheim is on the Council of the Dramatists Guild, having served as its president from 1973 to 1981, and in 1983 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1990, he was appointed the first Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University, and in 1993 was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He published two books: Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes and Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes and Miscellany. In 2014, Into the Woods was made into a major motion picture and was recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture in a Musical or Comedy.

Tickets will go on sale to the public on March 2, 2015. $250 tickets include the award ceremony, concert and post-show reception. A limited number of Host Committee tickets will also be available. Visit www.ardentheatre.org/support/masterstoryteller.html for details or call Genvieve Goldstein at 215.922.8900, ext. 49. Tickets will also be available through the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122.