Douglas J. Cohen to Receive 2010 Fred Ebb Award

By: Nov. 16, 2010
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The Fred Ebb Foundation (Mitchell Bernard, Trustee) in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director) will present the sixth annual Fred Ebb Award for aspiring musical theatre songwriters to Douglas J. Cohen. The award, named in honor of the late award-winning lyricist Fred Ebb, will be presented by David Thompson (The Scottsboro Boys) on Monday, November 29th from 6-8pm at a by-invitation-only ceremony in the Penthouse Lobby of The American Airlines Theater.

The Fred Ebb Award recognizes excellence in musical theatre songwriting, by a lyricist, composer, 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. The Fred Ebb Foundation is funded by royalties from Mr. Ebb's vast catalogue of work. Past winners include John Bucchino (2005), Steve Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman (2006), Peter Mills (2007), Adam Gwon (2008), and Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (2009). The selection panel is comprised of: Foundation Trustee Mitchell S. Bernard; lyricist, writer and composer Sheldon Harnick; Music Director David Loud; Actress Rebecca Luker; actor, lyricist and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda; Playwright/producer Tim Pinckney; Theatre producer Arthur Whitelaw.

Douglas J. Cohen is the composer/lyricist of The Big Time, an original musical with a book by Douglas Carter Beane, which is Broadway bound (producer, Rob Ahrens, Xanadu) and premiered in the NYMF Festival directed by Christopher Ashley. He won two Richard Rodgers Awards and the Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Theatre Foundation Award for writing book, music, and lyrics to No Way To Treat A Lady based on William Goldman's novel (currently optioned for New York by producer Larry Hirschhorn) and produced twice off-Broadway (Outer Critics Circle nomination Best Revival, York Theatre Company, with over 100 productions throughout the world including The Coconut Grove Playhouse, Signature Theatre, Barrington Stage) and The Gig, based on the Frank D. Gilroy film, for which Doug won the first Noël Coward Prize. The Gig has received workshops and productions at O'Neill Music-Theatre Conference, Goodspeed, MTC Stage II, California Music Circus, a European premiere in Baden-Baden, Germany and a concert at the York Theatre Company recorded and released on Jay Records.

Doug was a 2005 Drama Desk nominee for Outstanding Lyrics for Children's Letters To God (composer David Evans/librettist Suart Hample; off-B'way production at the Lamb's Theatre with productions throughout the country; original cast CD on Jay Records). He also contributed the original songs to the off-Broadway show, Boozy (10 Best List in TIME OUT and NY DAILY NEWS) written and produced by the Obie award-winning Les Freres Corbusier and directed by Alex Timbers.

His brand-new musical, Nine Wives, is written with collaborator Dan Elish (librettist of 13 on Broadway) based on Mr. Elish's published novel. Other musicals include Barnstormer (composer, with book/lyrics by Cheryl L. Davis), based on the life of the first African American aviatrix, Bessie Coleman. A bare bones production directed by Jerry Dixon at the Lark Play Development Center received a Jonathan Larson Grant. Later presented in Hartford Stage Company's "Brand: New Festival"(November 2007), it was selected for the NAMT 20th Festival in New York and produced at the Red Mountain Theatre Company in Birmingham January 2010; The Opposite Of Sex (composer/lyricist and co-librettist), a musical based on the film, which was produced at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and The Magic Theatre in San Francisco directed by Robert Jess Roth; GLIMMERGLASS based on James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales (composer, productions at Goodspeed-at-Chester, NAMT Festival, Spirit of Broadway production - voted Best Production of the Year); Valentino's Tango (lyricist-librettist of an original musical with composer Howard Marren); and A Charles Dickens Christmas (composer), originally produced by Theatreworks/USA and now licensed through Music Theatre International.

Doug recently completed his first play, Lovely Send Anywhere, which received two roundtable reading at the Lark Play Development Center in 2009-2010. He is currently working on a musical adaptation of Frank D. Gilroy's novel, From Noon Till Three. Doug is a member of ASCAP, the Dramatist Guild and a graduate of Amherst College.

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. Earlier this year, The Scottsboro Boys debuted at New York's Vineyard Theatre. The production received an additional production at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis before coming to Broadway this fall.

Photo Credit: BWW-Staff

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