Alan Schmuckler, Amanda Yesnowitz and Christian Duhamel Win the 2018 Kleban Prize
The Kleban Foundation just announced the recipients of the 28th Annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre. Adjudication in the 2018 Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre lyricist category resulted in a tie between Alan Schmuckler and Amanda Yesnowitz, and the 2018 Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist has been awarded to Christian Duhamel. The 2018 prizes will be presented on Monday, February 5, 2018, 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 Tony-nominated actress Marin Mazzie (The King & I, Kiss Me Kate, Ragtime, Passion),Tony-nominated composer and lyricist Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), and author and professor Laurence Maslon (American Musicals; Broadway: The American Musical, Associate Chair/Arts Professor, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts).
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 28 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 28 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 Lisa Kron (Fun Home), 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 (War Paint, Grey Gardens), 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 a complete listing of the last 28 years of Kleban Prize winners, see the list at the end of this document.
"For nearly three decades 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."
Alan Schmuckler (2018 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre lyricist) is a musical theater artist whose work includes writing, performing and music directing. In addition to work for the live stage, Alan has also created work for television, podcasts and digital formats. His work has been performed across the US and internationally. He is the composer/lyricist of Diary of a Wimpy Kid (with Michael Mahler, book by Kevin Del Aguila; world premiere, produced by Kevin McCollum, Fox Stage, and Children's Theatre Company); The Secret of My Success (with Mahler, book by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen; NBC/Universal); Wait Wait Don't Kill Me (book by Dave Holstein; Wondery Media Network; Flea Theater; Webby Award & International Audio Fiction Award); musical pilot Boyfred (with Mahler, Blake Silver and Jarrod Zimmerman; Shoe Money Productions/Sony TV/ABC TV); The Emperor's New Clothes (book by Holstein; Chicago Shakespeare Theater); How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? (with Mahler; CST); Days Like Today (book by Laura Eason; Writers Theater); and digital choose-your-own-adventure musical M. Little Red Green Coat (with Holstein; www.mylittleredgreencoat.com). In development: A Short History of Women (developed with and adapted from the novel by Kate Walbert); commissions from Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Writers Theater. Alan's music and lyrics have been featured as part of Broadway's Future Songbook (NYPL @ Lincoln Center), Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 54 Below, Joe's Pub, & Symphony Space. Residencies: Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters' Project; Goodspeed Musicals; Weston Playhouse. Music direction: Playwrights Horizons, O'Neill, NYMF, Ars Nova, Symphony Space, Children's Theater Company, About Face Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater. As actor: LCT, Hartford Stage, Geva, MUNY, 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists. Alan is a three-time Jeff nominee and his work is published by R&H. Proud graduate, Northwestern University. He lives in New York. @alanschmuckler
Amanda Yesnowitz (2018 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre lyricist), the first individual lyricist to win the Jonathan Larson Award, has also earned a Dramatists Guild Fellowship, the Dottie Burman Award, the Jamie deRoy and Friends Award, and 8 MAC nominations, all for excellence, promise, and vision in songwriting. She's currently collaborating with Broadway producer Ken Davenport on a musical inspired by Margaret Bulkley, a 19th-century Irish woman who mysteriously lived as Dr. James Barry. Selected works: Somewhere In Time (based on Richard Matheson's film/novel; Portland Center Stage world premiere; 7 PAMTA noms; NAMT finalist), By The Numbers (ASCAP showcase; Johnny Mercer Colony at Goodspeed), The History Of War (NYMF invited selection; O'Neill Conference finalist), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Hangar Theatre world premiere). Recordings: "Gotta Start Small" (Stephanie J. Block, "This Place I Know," PS Classics; Live from Lincoln Center filmed for PBS) and "Too Close to the Sun" (Elizabeth Stanley, "Kiss Me While We Have The Chance," Yellow Sound Lab). Notable: Featured writer at the Kennedy Center (ASCAP centennial) and Boston's Symphony Hall ("No Looking Back" performed by Keith Lockhart and the Pops on New Year's Eve); senior faculty at NYU. Her lyrics have also been published in The Dramatist magazine, Newsday, Time, and the New York Times. Strange but true: competitive crossword puzzle solver and published constructor (NY Times, August 26, 2012...no ordinary Sunday).
Christian Duhamel (2018 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre librettist) is a playwright, composer, actor and educator. In 2017, he served as a Songwriting Artist in Residence with Oriental DreamWorks. His newest musical, My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend, written with composer/lyricist Ed Bell, directed by Sean Daniels, and starring Charissa Bertels, received its world premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, produced by Peilin Chou. His other works include The Girl Who Turned Into a Feather (Something Marvelous Festival); Miss Mayor (Puzzle Theatre Festival; B-Side Productions' New American Musical Award finalist); Reinventing Romance (Kennedy Center ACTF awards for music, lyrics, playwriting and direction; David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award finalist); Worlds Apart (Music Theatre Ventures' Young Creators Award); X-Mas: A Merry Mutant Holiday Spectacular; Reeling; and Mary Walker Wears What She Wants. He has presented concert works at The Duplex, 54 Below, The Neon, Martin's Off Madison, New Voices, and The Battersea Barge, and has received commissions from theaters across the country, such as Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company/Wooden-O, and The Human Race Theatre Company. As an actor, he has been seen onstage at the 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, among others. A native of Kellogg, Idaho who grew up in the Seattle suburbs, Christian is alumnus of DePaul University and Wright State University. He currently resides in New York City where he is an active member of the Dramatists Guild of America, the Off-Broadway Alliance, Actors' Equity Association, and the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.