On behalf of the Kleban Foundation, New Dramatists presented the 19th Annual Kleban Award for the most promising musical theater lyricist has to Beth Falcone and the award for the most promising musical theater librettist has to Kait Kerrigan. The 2009 awards were presented on June 1, 2009, in a private ceremony at BMI.
The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, best known as the Tony® and Pulitzer Prize award winner for the musical A Chorus Line. The will made provision for two annual awards, each in the amount of $100,000 payable over two years, to be given to the most promising lyricist and librettist in American Musical Theater. The judges making the final determination this year were Sheldon Harnick (Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning lyricist of Fiddler on the Roof and Fiorello), twelve-time Grammy Award winning original cast recording producer Thomas Z. Shepard (Sweeney Todd, La Cage aux Folles, No No Nanette) and Emmy Award winning and Tony nominated playwright and screenwriter Sherman Yellen (The Rothschilds, Oh! Calcutta!).
"The Kleban Award is unique as it is bestowed not only on the merits of an artist's previous achievements, but for the promise of what they have to come," says Tony Award winner Richard Maltby, Jr, president of the Kleban Foundation. "For 19 years, this award has recognized nearly 50 gifted artists, some of whom have become recognized to be among the brightest talents that the American musical theatre has to offer."
Previous recipients of the annual Kleban Award include David Lindsay-Abaire (Shrek), Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last 5 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 (See What I Want To See, The Wild Party), Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid) and John Weidman (Road Show, Assassins).
ABOUT THE 2009 KLEBAN AWARD WINNERS
Beth Falcone is the composer/lyricist for Wanda's World, recently seen at the 45th Street Theater, produced by Amas Musical Theatre in association with Terry Schnuck. With a book by Eric H. Weinberger and directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Wanda's World earned a Drama Desk nomination as well as two Lucille Lortel nominations, including Best Musical. Wanda had its regional premier in Austin, TX with Zach Showstoppers this past January, and was recently optioned for a commercial New York run. Beth is a contributing composer/lyricist for Spongebob the Musical, Live!, currently in London, as well as for "Hats!" the Musical, now on National Tour. Her song "We Choose Love" was performed at the Pennsylvania Inaugural Gala celebration in Washington, DC, earning her a cherished place in the festivities. Beth is a member of the BMI Lehman-Engel Advanced Musical Theater Workshop and won the 2006 Harrington Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement. She was awarded a Dramatists Guild Musical Theater Fellowship in 2004-2005. Beth served as Associate Conductor for the Broadway run of Martin Short's show, Fame Becomes Me, and produced and musical directed Broadway for Obama, a benefit concert in Easton, PA, which featured over thirty Broadway performers who traveled to show their support for President Obama's campaign. She has also been musical director for the BMI and Dramatists Guild Showcases, as well as the Eugene O'Neill Summer Cabaret Conference. As a voice teacher, Beth has taught vocal technique for over ten years and is a proud member of the Voice Faculty at Circle in the Square Theater School in Manhattan. She holds a Double Masters Degree in Piano Performance and Conducting from Northwestern University.
Kait Kerrigan is a bookwriter, playwright, and lyricist based in New York City. Her musical Henry and Mudge, written with composer Brian Lowdermilk had an off-Broadway run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in 2006 and was commissioned by TheatreworksUSA. Since she and Lowdermilk began collaborating in 2002, they have also written The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown, The Woman Upstairs, Wrong Number, Tales from the Bad Years, and a web-based musical called The Freshman Experiment. This season, The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown received a developmental production at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, directed by Daniel Goldstein and produced by Beth Williams and Broadway Across America. "Say the Word," a song from the show, was performed by Miss New York (and second-runner-up) Leigh-Taylor Smith in the 2009 Miss America Pageant. This summer, their song cycle Tales from the Bad Years will be represented at the New Works Festival at Theatreworks in Palo Alto, CA. Kerrigan's musicals, as well as plays Imaginary Love and Transit, have been developed by the La Jolla Playhouse, Primary Stages, LArk Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival, National Alliance of Musical Theater Conference, CAP21, and Goodspeed Opera House. She was awarded the Jonathan Larson Award for her lyrics and a 2004-2005 Dramatists Guild Fellowship. She is a member of the BMI Advanced Musical Theatre Writing Workshop, ASCAP, Dramatists Guild, and is a graduate of Barnard College. For more information visit www.kerrigan-lowdermilk.com.