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2017 Kleban Prize Winners Announced

The Kleban Foundation is pleased to announce that the 27th annual Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre lyricist has been awarded to Daniel Zaitchik and the 27th annual Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist has been awarded to Lisa Kron. The 2017 prizes will be presented on Monday, February 6, 2017, in a private ceremony (by invitation only) hosted by ASCAP and BMI at ASCAP.

Since its inception, Kleban Prize winners have been selected by judging panels comprised of the theatre's most respected artists and administrators. The judges making the final determination this year were Academy Award-winning songwriting team Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit, Frozen) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Frozen), Tony-nominated actress Mary Testa (Xanadu, 42nd Street, On the Town), and Ira Weitzman (Lincoln Center Theater's Mindich Musical Theater Associate Producer).

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 two 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 27 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.

Over the past 27 years, the annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre has awarded approximately $5,000,000 to 63 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 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).

"For 27 years, The Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre has been one of the theatre's most distinctive honors," says Tony Award winner Richard Maltby, Jr., President of the Kleban Foundation. "While so many theatre awards recognize the best of the past season, The Kleban Prize distinguishes itself by looking to the promise of future work. With a uniquely generous endowment, The Kleban Prize celebrates and supports some of the theatre's most promising writers. The Kleban Foundation is proud to carry Ed Kleban's legacy into the 21st century, having fostered the work of emerging artists and the continued achievements of artists taking bold strides in their craft."


Daniel Zaitchik (2017 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre lyricist) is a singer-songwriter, composer-playwright, actor, and pianist. His projects include Picnic at Hanging Rock (book/music/lyrics), Darling Grenadine (book/music/lyrics), Ula (book/music/lyrics), and Suprema (with playwright Jordan Harrison). Zaitchik's musicals have been selected three times for development at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Music Theater Conference. His work has also been developed at Lincoln Center Theater, Ars Nova, New Dramatists, The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony, and Goodspeed's Festival of New Musicals. Darling Grenadine will premiere at Goodspeed Musicals in 2017. As a singer-songwriter, Zaitchik's recording projects include Summer of the Soda Fountain Girls and Bad Dancer. He has performed at venues including Joe's Pub, Feinstein's/54 Below, Rockwood Music Hall, and the Bootleg Theatre. As an actor, he has worked at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theater Club, Williamstown Theater Festival, Barrington Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, and others. Honors include The Ester B. Kahn Career Entry Award from Boston University, the Frederick Loewe Award from New Dramatists (for Suprema) and The Georgia Bogarduz Holof Lyricist Award (for Picnic at Hanging Rock).

Lisa Kron (2017 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre librettist) is a writer and performer whose work has been widely produced in New York, regionally, and internationally. She wrote the book and lyrics for musical Fun Home, with music by composer Jeanine Tesori, which won five 2015 Tony awards including Best Musical and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Lisa's other plays include In The Wake, Well, and the Obie Award winning 2.5 Minute Ride. As an actor she received a Tony award nomination for her performance in Well and a Lortel Award for her turn as Mrs. Mi-Tzu and Mrs. Yang in the Foundry Theater's acclaimed production of Good Person of Szechuan. She is the recipient of Guggenheim, Sundance and MacDowell fellowships, a Doris Duke Performing Artists Award, a Cal Arts/Alpert Award, a Helen Merrill Award, and grants from the Creative Capital and NYFA. Lisa is also a founding member of the OBIE and Bessie-Award-winning collaborative theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers. She serves on the boards of the MacDowell Colony and The Sundance Institute, the Council of the Dramatists Guild of America.

The application window for the 2018 Kleban Prize will open on March 15, 2017 and close at 6:00 p.m. EST on May 15, 2017. Guidelines for applying are available to view on New Dramatists' website at

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