Michael R. Jackson, Ben Bonnema & Christopher Staskel Announced as Winners of 16th Annual Fred Ebb Award

The award will be presented by Audra McDonald on Monday November 30th at 7pm.

By: Nov. 09, 2020
Michael R. Jackson, Ben Bonnema & Christopher Staskel Announced as Winners of 16th Annual Fred Ebb Award

The Fred Ebb Foundation in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company will present the sixteenth annual Fred Ebb Award for aspiring musical theatre songwriters to the team of Ben Bonnema & Christopher Staskel, and Michael R. Jackson. The award, named in honor of the late award-winning lyricist Fred Ebb, will be presented by Audra McDonald on Monday November 30th at 7pm in a virtual ceremony, available for viewing at www.fredebbfoundation.org.

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. The prize includes a $60,000 award. In addition to the monetary prize, the Fred Ebb Foundation will produce a one-night-only showcase of the winner's work. The Fred Ebb Foundation is funded by royalties from Mr. Ebb's vast catalogue of work. Past winners include John Bucchino (2005), Steve Lutvak & Robert L. Freedman (2006), Peter Mills (2007), Adam Gwon (2008), Marcy Heisler & Zina Goldrich (2009), Douglas J. Cohen (2010), Jeff Blumenkrantz (2011), Sam Willmott (2012), Michael Kooman & Christopher Dimond (2013), Chris Miller & Nathan Tysen (2014), Stacey Luftig & Phillip Palmer (2015), Thomas Mizer & Curtis Moore (2016), Shaina Taub (2017), Will Reynolds & Eric Price (2018), and Angela Sclafani and Benjamin Velez (2019).

The selection panel is comprised of Foundation Trustee Mitchell S. Bernard; actress Janet Dacal; actress Natascia Diaz; actress Celia Keenan-Bolger; and music director David Loud. Each year, the Foundation also makes a donation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Ben Bonnema is the recipient of the Jonathan Larson Grant, ASCAP Frederick Loewe Award, and the Harold Adamson Lyric Award. The New Yorker raved about his musical The Apple Boys, calling it "a bushelful of delights" and that he wrote "clever, catchy songs" (book by Jonothon Lyons, 2018 production at HERE Arts Center). One Way, with Christopher Staskel, was developed at the Musical Theatre Factory, the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writer's Colony at Goodspeed and NAMT's 2019 Festival of New Musicals starring Jenn Colella (Come From Away). Ben wrote the book, music & lyrics to Adult Swim's Peter Panic, a musical video game played by nearly two million people (developed by James Marion). His slumber party musical Boys Who Tricked Me was called "heart-healing musical theatre" by Joshua Barone of the New York Times. Other full-length work: The Lost Girl with Arianna Rose. Film: Mary Poppins Returns (Music Associate to Marc Shaiman, Oscar nom.). Ben holds an M.F.A. from NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Christopher Staskel is a writer and musical theatre lyricist-librettist based in NYC. He received the 2019 ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Lyric Award following a concert of his work (with collaborator Ben Bonnema) at the John F. Kennedy Center in D.C. His and Bonnema's musical One Way-about the first one-way mission to Mars-was selected for NAMT's 2019 Festival of New Musicals, the Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, and the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat. He was a winner (with Max Mamon) of NY City Center's 2014 Sondheim Remix contest, which granted him the surreal opportunity to rap for Stephen Sondheim. He holds a B.F.A. in Music Theatre from Elon University and an M.F.A. from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. When not thinking up rhymes, Chris works at a cat cafe. www.christopherstaskel.com

Michael R. Jackson's 2020 Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle Award-winning A Strange Loop had its 2019 world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in association with Page 73 Productions. As a songwriter, he has seen his work performed everywhere from Joe's Pub to NAMT. In addition to A Strange Loop, he also wrote book, music and lyrics for White Girl in Danger; and lyrics and book for the musical adaptation of the 2007 horror film Teeth with composer and co-bookwriter Anna K. Jacobs. Awards and associations include a New Professional Theatre Festival Award, a Jonathan Larson Grant, a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, an ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, a Whiting Award, the Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting, a New York Drama Circle Critics Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Obie Award, an Antonyo Award, a Dramatist Guild Fellowship and he is an alum of Page 73's Interstate 73 Writers Group.