Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond to Be Honored with 2013 Fred Ebb Award, 12/2
The Fred Ebb Foundation (Mitchell Bernard, Trustee) in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director) will present the ninth annual Fred Ebb Award for aspiring musical theatre songwriters to Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond. The award, named in honor of the late award-winning lyricist Fred Ebb, will be presented by Joel Grey on Monday, December 2nd from 6-8pm at a by-invitation-only ceremony in the Penthouse Lounge of The American Airlines Theater.
The Fred Ebb Award recognizes excellence in musical theatre songwriting, by a songwriter or songwriting team that has not yet achieved significant commercial success. The award is meant to encourage and support aspiring songwriters to create new works for the musical theatre. The prize includes a $50,000 award. In addition to the monetary prize, the Fred Ebb Foundation will produce a one-night-only showcase of the winner's work. The Fred Ebb Foundation is funded by royalties from Mr. Ebb's vast catalogue of work. Each year, the Foundation also makes a donation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Past winners include John Bucchino (2005), Steve Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman (2006), Peter Mills (2007), Adam Gwon (2008), Marcy Heisler & Zina Goldrich (2009), Douglas C. Cohen (2010), Jeff Blumenkrantz (2011), and Sam Willmott (2012). The selection panel is comprised of: Foundation Trustee Mitchell Bernard; lyricist, writer and composer Sheldon Harnick; music director David Loud; actress Julia Murney; playwright and producer Tim Pinckney; and theatre producer Arthur Whitelaw.
Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond received the 2010 Jonathan Larson Grant and are the first recipients of the Lorenz Hart Award. Between them, they have received the Burton Lane Award, the Harold Adamson Award, the KC/ACTF Musical Theatre Award, a NYFA Fellowship, an Anna Sosenko Grant, and numerous ASCAP Plus awards.
They are currently working on the original musicals The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes (developed at the O'Neill Music Theater Conference and the Village Theater), Orphie & The Book of Heroes (commissioned by the Kennedy Center and set to premiere in February, 2014), and Judge Jackie Justice (commissioned by the Pittsburgh CLO, and scheduled to open in early 2014). Their first collaboration, Dani Girl (licensed by Samuel French) has been workshopped at the Kennedy Center, American Conservatory Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theater Workshop, the Festival of New American Musicals, and was featured in the 2011 NAMT Festival of New Musicals. The show has seen productions in Toronto, Dallas, Boston, and Australia, and is currently enjoying a free, invite-only lab presentation at New York's Exit, Pursued by a Bear (www.epbb.org).
The duo's other works include Golden Gate (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Homemade Fusion (London's Ambassadors Theater, Edinburgh Fringe Festival), the family-friendly Christmas musical Junior Claus (licensed by Dramatic Publishing) and the short film Flour Baby. Michael and Chris are members of the Dramatists Guild and ASCAP, and are proud alumni of Carnegie Mellon University. They were Dramatists Guild Fellows, received a fellowship at the O'Neill National Music Theater Conference, and attended the Johnny Mercer Songwriting workshop. Their debut album, OUT OF OUR HEADS, featuring an all-star lineup of Broadway performers, is now available on iTunes. Their official website is www.koomandimond.com.
As a writer, lyricist, composer and director, Fred Ebb made incalculable contributions to the New York theatrical community. Mr. Ebb is a Tony, Grammy, Emmy, Olivier and Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award winning recipient. Fred Ebb's first professional songwriting assignment came in 1953 when he and Phil Springer were hired by Columbia Records to write a song for Judy Garland called "Heartbroken." Mr. Ebb was introduced to composer John Kander in 1964 by music publisher Tommy Valando and became one of the most legendary songwriting teams in American history. The first successful collaboration was on the song "My Coloring Book," recorded by Barbra Streisand. Their second theatrical collaboration, Flora, the Red Menace, created a star out of Liza Minnelli in her Tony Award-winning Broadway debut. In 1966, their collaboration Cabaret, opened and received seven Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Score. A 1972 movie version of Cabaret starring Liza Minnelli was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won eight awards and was nominated for nine Golden Globe Awards and won three including Best Picture, Musical or Comedy. The same year, the songwriting team wrote a number of songs for Minnelli's television special "Liza With a Z," which received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program - Variety or Popular Music. In 1975, the two wrote the Broadway musical Chicago, directed by Bob Fosse and starring Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach. The musical was successfully revived 20 years later at City Center ENCORES! and subsequently transferred to Broadway where it is currently the longest running revival in Broadway history. In 1977, the team collaborated with Martin Scorsese on the movie New York, New York; the title song was introduced by Minnelli and later recorded by Frank Sinatra becoming the unofficial theme song of New York City. The Minnelli Broadway vehicle The Act also opened that year. After a four-year absence, Mr. Ebb and Mr. Kander returned with Woman of the Year (1981), The Rink (1984), Kiss of the Spiderwoman (1985) and Steel Pier (1997). They were honored by the Kennedy Center with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. Miramax's 2002 feature film Chicago was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture and was nominated for eight Golden Globe Awards and won three, including Best Picture, Musical or Comedy.
At the time of Mr. Ebb's passing, he and Mr. Kander were at work on several new musicals. Curtains, starring David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk, debuted at CTG/Ahmanson Theatre in 2006 and came to Broadway in 2007, receiving a Tony Nomination for Best Musical as well as a Best Score nomination for Kander & Ebb. In 2007, All About Us was staged at the Westport Country Playhouse. The Visit, starring Chita Rivera and George Hearn, received a staging at DC's Signature Theatre in 2008 as well as a concert staging in NYC in the fall of 2011. In the 2010-2011 season, The Scottsboro Boys opened on Broadway and received 12 Tony Nominations, including Best Musical and Best Score. This spring, Rob Marshall and Sam Mendes's Tony Award winning production of Cabaret will return to Broadway, with Alan Cumming reprising his role as the Emcee and Three-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles.