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Laurence O'Keefe Will Co-Chair Dramatists Guild Fund's Fellows Program

Dramatists Guild Fund President Andrew Lippa and Executive Director Rachel Routh announced today that Laurence O'Keefe will Co-Chair the nonprofit's Fellows Program.

Award-winning composer and lyricist Laurence O'Keefe (Bat Boy; Legally Blonde; Sarah, Plain And Tall) joins Michael Korie and Diana Son as Program Chair of the Dramatists Guild and Dramatists Guild Fund's Fellows Program.

The Fellows Program, a nine-month intensive in New York, brings together playwrights and musical theater writers to discuss their work, introduce them to experienced theater professionals, and pair them with artist mentors. Founded in 2000 by Lynn Ahrens and Janet Neipris, who led the program for many years along with Stephen Flaherty and Susan Miller, the Fellows Program has been instrumental to over 100 dramatists early in their careers.

"The Dramatists Guild Fellows was the single most impactful program that I was a part of as an emerging writer ... the lessons we all learned from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty were immeasurable. We all knew them as remarkable writers but only the lucky few of us who were in the fellowship with them knew that they were extraordinary teachers." - Kait Kerrigan (Kleban Award recipient, Larson Award recipient)

In addition to O'Keefe, playwright and former Fellow Sheri Wilner (Kingdom City, How to Survive the Death of a Parent: A Comedy, and Hunger) has been named Program Director.

"As a former Dramatists Guild Playwriting Fellow, I know firsthand what a profound and significant impact this fellowship has on the life of a young theatre artist. And so I feel particularly delighted and privileged to have the opportunity to give back to a program and an organization that has given so much to me." - Sheri Wilner

The Fellows Program is administered by the Dramatists Guild and funded by the Dramatists Guild Fund. Its mission is to enhance the sense of community among developing American dramatists by offering a yearlong workshop designed to augment their training with practical experience and career information resources.

Former Fellows include

Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Academy Award winner, Frozen), Rajiv Joseph (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo), Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (Tony nominees for Best Score, A Christmas Story), Deborah Zoe Laufer (ATCA Steinberg Award, End Days), and Adam Gwon (Fred Ebb and Richard Rodgers Award winner).

Laurence O'Keefe is a composer, lyricist and bookwriter for Broadway, film and television. Laurence also co-produced the LA and NY productions of Heathers, which received a Drama Desk nomination for music and the BroadwayWorld.com Album Award for Best Off-Broadway Cast Album. Laurence and Nell Benjamin won the Olivier Award for co-writing Legally Blonde: The Musical, which ran 2 1/2 years on the West End and has toured the UK. Blonde received seven Tony Award nominations, two US national tours and several award-winning international productions, including Australia's Helpmann Award for Best Musical.

Laurence wrote the score for Bat Boy: The Musical, which won the Lucille Lortel Award, two Richard Rodgers Awards and the New York Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, and has received over 500 productions worldwide, including the West End, Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin and Edinburgh.

Laurence and Nell's other shows include The Mice (prod. by Hal Prince at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia and the Ahmanson in Los Angeles), Sarah, Plain And Tall (Lortel Theater, O'Neill Theatre Conference, Dallas Theatre Center), Cam Jansen (Lamb's Theatre), and the upcoming Life Of The Party (first commissioned by LaGuardia HS of the Arts).

Laurence won the Ed Kleban Award, a Jonathan Larson Foundation Grant and the Richard Rodgers New Horizon Award for his lyrics and music. Television credits include songs and scores for "The Daily Show", "Defiance", "Johnny And The Sprites", Disney Channel and PBS. A graduate of Harvard and USC, Laurence teaches master classes at Harvard, Yale, NYU and elsewhere. Laurence and Nell live in New York City with their 2-year-old daughter and her collection of very small pianos.

Sheri Wilner's plays include Kingdom City, Bake Off, Father Joy and Hunger, and have been performed at such theatres as the La Jolla Playhouse, Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Naked Angels, the O'Neill Playwrights' Conference and Primary Stages, as well the Old Vic/New Voices program in London. Playwriting awards include a Bush Artist Fellowship, two Playwrights' Center Jerome Fellowships and two Heideman Awards, granted by the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Her work has been published in more than a dozen anthologies, which has led to over two hundred productions of her plays worldwide.

Photo by Walter McBride


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