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Sam Willmott to Receive 2012 Fred Ebb Award, 11/26

The Fred Ebb Foundation (Mitchell Bernard, Trustee) in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director) will present the eighth annual Fred Ebb Award for aspiring musical theatre songwriters to Sam Willmott. The award, named in honor of the late award-winning lyricist Fred Ebb, will be presented by David Hyde Pierce on Monday, November 26th 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 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 $50,000 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. Each year, the Foundation also makes a donation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Past winners include John Bucchino (2005), Steve Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman (2006), Peter Mills (2007), Adam Gwon (2008), Marcy Heisler & Zina Goldrich (2009), Douglas C. Cohen (2010), and Jeff Blumenkrantz (2011). The selection panel is comprised of: Foundation Trustee Mitchell S. Bernard; Actress Mary Testa; lyricist, writer and composer Sheldon Harnick; music director David Loud; playwright and producer Tim Pinckney; and theatre producer Arthur Whitelaw.

Sam WillmotT is a musical theater composer/lyricist whose work has been performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Walnut Street Theatre, 54 Below, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theatre, The York Theatre and other venues across the country.

Sam's written work includes Standardized Testing - The Musical!!!! (2009 Kennedy Center ACTF Musical Theatre Award for music and lyrics, Penn State NU Musicals Series, published through Playscripts, Inc., Emerson College’s 2012-2013 fall mainstage musical), the mini-musical Scarlet Takes a Tumble (2011 Humana Festival Heideman Award Finalist), and Yo, Vikings! with lyricist Marcus Stevens (commissioned by Upper Darby Summer Stage, 2011 Richard Rodgers Award Finalist, 2012 Weston New Musical Award nominee).

Sam is also an active a music director, arranger, orchestrator and pianist, and his work in these departments has taken him from Radio City Music Hall to Key West to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He has been fortunate enough to work with an eclectic assortment of distinguished artists, including five-time Tony-nominee Elizabeth Swados, Dan Goggin (Nunsense), recording artists Will and Anthony Nunziata, and singer/songwriter Shaina Taub. In summer 2012, he made his Broadway debut playing the Key II book for Sister Act.

Sam's accolades include two featured songs (“I’m Sitting Next to Estella” and “Real Adventure”) in the Directory of Contemporary Musical Theater Writers “Top 25 Songs” list, a 2009 Music Theatre Fellowship at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, a Tisch School of the Arts Trustee Scholarship, Interlochen Center for the Arts' prestigious Maddy Summer Artist Award, and two National Capital Area Cappie Awards. He is an alumnus of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, New York University and the 2011 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, and a member of the Dramatists Guild, Local 802 AFM, and the BMI Lehman Engel Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop.

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 as well as a concert staging in NYC in the fall of 2011. In the 2010-2011 season, The Scottsboro Boys opened on Broadway and received 12 Tony Nominations, including Best Musical and Best Score.

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