31ST ANNUAL KLEBAN PRIZE FOR MUSICAL THEATRE TO BE PRESENTED MONDAY, 3/15 AT 7:00 PM ET EXCLUSIVELY ON BROADWAY ON DEMAND
FOR THE KLEBAN PRIZE
Keith Sherman & Associates
212 764 7900
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE
FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER
THE 31ST ANNUAL
KLEBAN PRIZE FOR MUSICAL THEATRE
TO BE PRESENTED VIRTUALLY
MONDAY, MARCH 15 AT 7:00 PM ET
BROADWAY ON DEMAND
TWO $100,000 AWARDS FOR WRITERS OF EXTRAORDINARY PROMISE
AWARDED TO LYRICIST
MELISSA LI & KIT YAN
CEREMONY TO BE HOSTED BY
TONY AWARD WINNERS
RICHARD MALTBY JR.
New York, NY (March 9, 2021) – Broadway On Demand, the theater-focused streaming platform, is proud to present the first ever virtual presentation of the 31st annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre, Monday, March 15 at 7:00 PM ET at https://www.broadwayondemand.com/not-live/Ti4CEeGaKzeS-kleban-prize-awards-ceremony?channel=current-live-schedule.
As previously announced, the 2021 Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre lyricist has been awarded to lyricist Benjamin Scheuer. The Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist has been awarded to librettists Melissa Li and Kit Yan.
Free and open to the public, this year’s awards will feature musical performances from this year’s recipients and will be hosted by Tony Award winners and Kleban Foundation board members Richard Maltby Jr. and Maury Yeston.
For those unable to attend the premiere streaming event on Broadway On Demand, the 2021 Kleban Prize Presentation will be available for viewing beginning Tuesday, March 16 at 10:00 AM ET at www.NewDramatists.org/Kleban-Prize-Musical-Theatre.
Since its inception, Kleban Prize winners have been selected by judging panels comprised of the theatre’s most respected artists and administrators. The trio of award-winning judges making the final determination this year were actor Raúl Esparza (Company, Taboo); Kleban Prize and Rodgers Award-winning librettist Mike Lew (Teenage Dick, Tiger Style); and actor-director Seret Scott (for colored girls…, My Sister, My Sister).
“For over three decades, the Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre has been one of the theatre’s most distinctive honors, and in this unique and challenging year, Ed Kleban’s legacy may be more important than ever in its engaging with and fostering the creators of tomorrow’s American Musical theatre,” says Tony Award winner Richard Maltby Jr, President of the Kleban Foundation. “Ed Kleban recognized that theatrical wordsmiths had the hardest time supporting themselves while honing their craft, and so the Kleban awards are specifically for librettists and lyricists. Particularly apropos for 2020 – 2021, it is notable that the Kleban Prize is not given to a specific work already completed (as other theatre awards do), but instead, recognizing the excellence of past work, it is given to the writers in anticipation of work yet to be done. With a uniquely generous endowment, the Kleban Prize identifies, celebrates, and supports the most promising writing talent in the theatre, just when emerging writers and established writers need help the most. In these challenging times, the Kleban Foundation is proud to carry on Ed Kleban’s enlightened legacy, and to continue fostering the work of new writers, as well as supporting writers who have already begun to establish themselves. Kleban Prize winners are the artists who are going to define the art form for years to come. We celebrate them, their fresh perspectives and creative energy that will be so very important to the theater when it returns.”
For more than three decades, the annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre has awarded over $6,000,000 to 79 artists who collectively have garnered four Tony Awards (with nearly 30 Tony nominations), 59 Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, 10 Drama Desk Awards, nine Outer Critic Circle Awards, four Obie Awards, two Olivier Awards, and two Pulitzer Prizes. The list of previous Kleban Prize winners includes Lisa Kron (Fun Home), Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak (A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder), David Lindsay-Abaire (Shrek), Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years), John Bucchino (A Catered Affair, It’s Only Life), Gretchen Cryer (I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road, The Last Sweet Days of Isaac), Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, Happiness), Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), Michael John LaChiusa (Giant, See What I Wanna See, The Wild Party), Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid) and John Weidman (Pacific Overtures, Road Show, Assassins).
The application window for the 2022 Kleban Prize will open on March 19, 2021 and close at 5:00 PM ET on May 19, 2021. Guidelines for applying are available to view on New Dramatists’ website at www.newdramatists.org/kleban-prize-musical-theatre. The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, best known as the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning lyricist of the musical A Chorus Line. Kleban’s will made provisions for annual prizes, which in recent years have totaled $100,000 each, payable over two years, to be given to the most promising lyricist and librettist in American musical theatre. For over 30 years, the Kleban Prize, which has recognized and honored some of the American musical theatre’s brightest developing talents, is unique in that it is bestowed not just for an artist’s previous achievements, but for the promise of creativity to come. For more information about the Kleban Prize visit www.NewDramatists.org/Kleban-Prize-Musical-Theatre.
The Kleban Foundation Board of Directors includes André Bishop, Elliot H. Brown, Sheldon Harnick, Richard Maltby, Jr., Richard Terrano, John Weidman, Maury Yeston.
BENJAMIN SCHEUER (2021 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre lyricist) wrote and performed The Lion. (Drama Desk Award, “Outstanding Solo Performance;” off-West-End Award, “Best New Musical”). After more than 500 performances, Scheuer gave his final performance of The Lion at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. The LA Times wrote that “the vibe of casual, unrehearsed immediacy masks the narrative complexity of a novel or an opera.” His album Songs from The Lion was released in 2016 (Warner/ADA), along with four music videos, which won prizes including “Best Commissioned Film” at the Annecy Film Festival and two consecutive “Best Music Video” prizes at the British Animation Awards. In March 2020, Scheuer released the song “I Am Samantha,” about a transgender friend of Scheuer’s. The music-video features a cast of 27 people, all of whom are transgender. The track is the first release from a forthcoming album with Canvasback/Atlantic Records (US) & Parlophone (UK). Scheuer and world-renowned ballet dancer Carlos Acosta collaborated on a short film, “Empty Stage,” accompanying Scheuer’s eponymous song, recorded with Royal Ballet Sinfonia orchestra. The film features Scheuer, Acosta, and the Birmingham Royal Ballet, where Acosta is Artistic Director. Scheuer is the author of two songs-turned-into-children’s-books: Hibernate With Me and Hundred Feet Tall, both illustrated by his wife, Jemima Williams (Simon & Schuster). Hibernate With Me has been translated into German, French, and Mandarin. Hundred Feet Tall will be published in Welsh in 2021 (Much to the pleasure of Jemima, who grew up on a Welsh sheep farm; Benjamin, Jemima and their young daughter quarantined there for three months in spring 2020). With playwright Melis Aker, Scheuer is working on adapting Hundred Feet Tall into a musical for children. With Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, Peter and the Star Catcher) he’s writing a musical about Peter Roget, the fellow who wrote the eponymous Thesaurus. Scheuer lives with his family in London.
MELISSA LI (2021 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre librettists) is a composer, lyricist, book writer, and performer based in NYC and Baltimore. She is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Award, a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow, a Lincoln Center Theater Writer-in-Residence, a 2019 Musical Theatre Factory Maker, a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a Company One Pao Arts Fellow, and a former Queer|Art|Mentorship Fellow. Musicals include Interstate (Mixed Blood Theatre, New York Musical Festival Winner “Outstanding Lyrics”), MISS STEP, Cancelled (Keen Company), May Day, Surviving the Nian (The Theater Offensive, IRNE Award Winner for “Best New Play” 2007), and 99% Stone. Her works have received support from 5th Avenue Theatre, The Village Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Musical Theater Factory, Playwrights Horizons, Keen Company, Weston Playhouse, New York Rep, Company One Theatre, National Performance Network, and New England Foundation for the Arts, among others.
KIT YAN (2021 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre librettists) is a queer and transgender Yellow American creator, based in New York, born in Enping, China, and raised in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Kit is a 2019 Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Vivace award winner and has been a fellow at the Dramatists Guild Foundation, MacDowell, Playwright’s Center, Company One/Pao Arts, and the Musical Theater Factory. Their work has been developed/produced/commissioned by 5th Avenue Theater, Keen Company, Playwrights Horizons, American Repertory Theater, Mixed Blood, Diversionary, The Smithsonian, OSF, San Diego Repertory Theater, The Artists’ Theater of Boston, and the New York Repertory Theater. Yan’s recent works include Interstate (NAMT 2019, 2018 NYMF best lyrics) and MISS STEP two new transgender musicals.
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