The American Theatre Wing recognizes the recipients of the 2015 Jonathan Larson Grants: writing team Tim Rosser (composer) & Charlie Sohne (composer) receiving $10,000, Sam Willmott (composer/lyricist) receiving $10,000 and a week-long residency at the Running Deer Musical Theatre Lab, and Max Vernon (composer/lyricist) receiving $10,000. This year's recipients were selected by an expert panel consisting of Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody), Steven Lutvak (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder), and Ted Chapin (President and Executive Director of Rodgers & Hammerstein). The prestigious grants totaling $30,000 will be presented tonight, March 23, 2015 at a private event at the WNYC Greene Space. The event will feature special performances of the recipients' work.
"The Jonathan Larson Grants give us the opportunity each year to support exciting new theater makers and invest in the changing landscape of the American musical, one writer at a time." said Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing.
Additionally, Sam Willmott and Max Vernon will be featured in an evening of performance at Adelphi University, as part of their Larson Legacy Concert Series. The Concert Series, to be held in Fall 2015 and Winter/Spring 2016 at the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center in Garden City, NY, will help nurture and support the next generation of creative artists by one of the same organizations that supported and nurtured Jonathan Larson as an artist - thereby carrying on his creative and ground-breaking legacy.
The grants, given annually to honor emerging composers, lyricists and book writers, help to continue Tony Award-winning composer Jonathan Larson's dream of infusing musical theatre with a contemporary, joyful, urban vitality. Dedicated to celebrating excellence and supporting theatre, the American Theatre Wing awards the Larson Grants to artists to recognize and showcase their work with no strings attached - except to put it to the best use possible to help further the artists' creative endeavors.
Past recipients of the Larson Grants include Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (A Christmas Story), Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), Chad Beguelin & Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer), John Bucchino (A Catered Affair), Laurence O'Keefe (Bat Boy: The Musical), Michael Korie (Grey Gardens), Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody), Sara Cooper & Zach Redler (The Memory Show), and Shaina Taub (The Daughters).
Tim Rosser and Charlie Sohne are 2014-15 Dramatist Guild Fellows. Together, they have written: The Boy Who Danced on Air (2013 NAMT Festival of New Works and Writers Residency Grant, 2013 Rodgers Award Finalist, 2013 ART/NY and NYTB Workshop), The Profit of Creation (2011 Yale Institute for Musical Theater, developed through ASCAP's 2010 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Program) and the short musical Political Speeches (The Culture Project's IMPACT Series). Their work has been seen in a sold-out 54 Below Show, at Birdland, Cutting Edge Composers at Joe's Pub, A Little New Music at Rockwell in L.A, Contemporary Classics at Seattle Rep, The Holiday Concert at the Lincoln Center Library and others. They were members of the Advanced Class of the BMI Workshop. Separately, Charlie Sohne has developed work at New York Stage and Film, the O'Neill National Music Theater Conference, The Lark and the Cherry Lane Theater - and has had his work sung in concert at Second Stage (DCMTW's "The Concert") and through BMI's Smoker and Showcase. His song "I'm Just Glad You're Here" (music by David Gaines) was named one of the Top 25 Songs in the Directory of Contemporary Musical Theater Writers. Tim Rosser has music directed the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefit Broadway Backwards at the Palace and Al Hirschfeld Theaters and was the Associate Music Director of I am Harvey Milk at Avery Fischer Hall. He has played keyboards for Rocky, The Addams Family on Broadway, Carrie at the Lucille Lortel, and he's played rehearsals for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, and City Center's Encores series.
Sam Willmott is a NYC-based composer/lyricist, whose projects include Bhangin' It (with Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew); Yo, Vikings! (with Marcus Stevens, published by Samuel French); the mini-musical Scarlet Takes a Tumble; and Standardized Testing - The Musical!!!! (published by Playscripts, Inc.), among others. He is the recipient of the 2013 ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award for Lyrics, the 2012 Fred Ebb Award, the 2012 John Wallowitch Award, and the 2009 Kennedy Center ACTF Musical Theater Award, and has been a writer-in-residence at Goodspeed Musicals (2014, 2013) and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center (2013). Sam is also a proud contributor for English Egg, a Korea-based children's language program. For more information, check out samwillmott.com.
Max Vernon is a composer/lyricist, playwright, and performer. Described by the New Yorker as "equal parts bohemia and Broadway," his work has been performed and developed at Ars Nova, Theatreworks USA, Naked Angels, New Dramatists, Two River Theater (NJ), Dixon Place, Woodshed Collective, Ma-Yi, LaMaMa, and Pride Films and Plays (Chicago), among others. This past year he was a Dramatist Guild Theatre Fellow, an artist in residence at Rhinebeck Writer's Retreat, a JFund award recipient, and also finished his first commission for Disney Creative Entertainment. He is currently a member of Ars Nova's Uncharted, as well as the Civilians R&D Group. He has performed over a hundred concerts in New York City, including sold out shows at Joe's Pub (Frisk Me: The Songs of Max Vernon) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Civilians' Let Me Ascertain You). His musicals include The View UpStairs (NYU, Pride Films and Plays) and WIRED (Ars Nova) Developing: Co-Op (Ars Nova, Naked Angels Radio); Aesop's Fables (Theatreworks USA); WAM! Entertainment (Ars Nova/Ma-Yi); Show & Tell (Jerome Foundation, Civilians R&D Group) MFA: NYU-Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. www.maxvernon.com
Photo by Seth Walters