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2015 Fred Ebb Award Winner MY HEART IS THE DRUM to Receive Presentation Next Week


Stacey Luftig and Phillip Palmer, winners of the 2015 Fred Ebb Award, will present an invitation only showcase of their acclaimed work MY HEART IS THE DRUM on Monday, June 6th at 5 PM at the York Theatre (619 Lexington Avenue at East 54th Street, New York City)

MY HEART IS THE DRUM had its World Premiere at Village Theatre in Washington, and ran from March 17 to May 21, 2016. It was developed at Kent State University, the Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals, Goodspeed Musicals Writers Colony, the NAMT Festival of New Musicals, and the BMI Workshop.

In a poor village in Ghana, West Africa, a spirited young woman named Efua Kuti is determined to attend university against all odds. So when her education is denied, she defies her parents and risks everything to run away to the city of Accra to pursue her dream. However, her escape becomes a dark rite of passage as she discovers that the urban society she's been lured into has more sophisticated and cruel ways of exploiting women than she was capable of imagining. Forced to change and grow amid her struggle to survive, Efua ultimately finds a way to bring together her love of her family and village with the desire to explore the world beyond them.

Inspired by the stories of girls and women across the globe who triumph despite oppression, MY HEART IS THE DRUM is a celebration of the human spirit and a tribute to the transformative role women play in modern society.

MY HEART IS THE DRUM features a book by Jennie Redling (Gone Astray). The event will be directed by Schele Williams (Motown the Musical, Aida). The cast includes Jelani Alladin (Choir Boy), Nicole Lewis (Hair), Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako (Little Bee), Jon-Michael Reese (The Book of Mormon National Tour), Sophia Nicole Stephens (The Lion King), Rema Webb (The Color Purple), Donald Webber Jr. (Holler If Ya Hear Me), Joell Weil (Grease at 5th Avenue), and Jamar Williams (The Broken Window Theory). Matt Cataldi is the pianist with drums and percussion by Grant Braddock.

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. 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), Sam Willmott (2012), Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond (2013), and Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen (2014). The selection panel is comprised of: Foundation Trustee Mitchell Bernard; lyricist, writer and composer Sheldon Harnick; music director David Loud; actress Kelli O'Hara; playwright and producer Tim Pinckney; and theatre producer Arthur Whitelaw. Each year, the Foundation also makes a donation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

For more information on MY HEART IS THE DRUM:

Phillip Palmer (Composer) is the winner of the 2015 Fred Ebb Award for Musical Theater Songwriting and a finalist for the 2016 Richard Rodgers Award for My Heart Is the Drum, his first musical. Mr. Palmer wrote the music for The Weatherman (book and lyrics by Alisa Klein Hauser, Clear Space Productions, and Network One-Act Festival). His dance compositions have been choreographed and performed at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the ImageMovementSound Festival in Rochester, NY. He graduated from the Eastman School of Music and has studied traditional drumming and choral music in Ghana and South Africa. Mr. Palmer is also commissioned Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In his capacity as a diplomat, he lived and worked for five years in Southern Africa and Haiti, where he managed programs to help small farmers and businesses. He holds a Master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.

Stacey Luftig (Lyricist) was awarded the 2016 Kleban Prize for Most Promising Lyricist and the 2015 Fred Ebb Award for Musical Theatre Songwriting. Along with Phillip Palmer and bookwriter Jennie Redling, she was a finalist for the 2016 Richard Rodgers Award for My Heart Is the Drum. Stacey's lyrics and monologue were featured Off-Broadway and on tour in That's Life (Outer Critics Circle nom.). She wrote book and lyrics for Understood Betsy (Winner, Jackie White Memorial National Children's Playwriting Award and the National Children's Theatre Festival Award). Story of an Hour, her operetta, premiered with the Portland Chamber Orchestra, and her play Jinxed, an O'Neil National Play Conference Finalist, won first place and audience favorite at Dayton Playhouse FutureFest. She has also written animated television episodes for Pinky Dinky Doo, produced by the Sesame Workshop. Stacey is currently writing lyrics for a family musical, The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, based on the award-winning book by René Colato Laínez. She is an alumnus of UVA and the BMI Workshop; a five-time fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; and a member of the BMI Librettists Workshop, ASCAP, and the Dramatists Guild.

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