Sarah Hammond, Shaina Taub, and Charlie Sohne Receive Kleban Prize For Musical Theatre
The Kleban Foundation has announced the recipients of the 29th Annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre. The judges declared a tie in the most promising musical theatre lyricist category between Sarah Hammond and Shaina Taub. The Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist has been awarded to Charlie Sohne. The 2019 prizes will be presented on Monday, February 4, 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 actor Alison Fraser, (The Secret Garden; Romance, Romance), Tony© nominated composer lyricist Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody, Bring It On The Musical), and Artistic Director of The Signature Theatre, Arlington, VA and Tony© nominated director Eric Schaeffer (Follies). 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 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 29 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 29 years, the annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre has awarded approximately $6,000,000 to 66 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 (Grey Gardens, Happiness), 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 29 years of Kleban Prize winners, see the list at the end of this document.
"For nearly three decades, 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. "Ed Kleban recognized that theatrical wordsmiths had the hardest time supporting themselves while honing their craft, and so the Kleban Awards are specifically for librettists and lyricists. While other theatre awards recognize the best of the past season, The Kleban Prize celebrates work yet to be done. With a uniquely generous endowment, The Kleban Prize identifies, celebrates and supports the most promising writing talent in the theatre, just when emerging writers need help the most. The Kleban Foundation is proud to carry Ed Kleban's enlightened legacy into the 21st century, and to continue fostering the work of new writers, as well as supporting writers who have already begun to establish themselves. Kleban Prize winners are the artists who are going to define the art form for years to come."
Sarah Hammond (2019 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre lyricist) is a playwright and musical theatre writer. Sarah wrote the book for the musical String (Village Theater World-Premiere 2018; Richard Rodgers Award; NAMT) and the book and lyrics for Theatreworks USA's Pete the Cat (Off-Broadway, four national tours). She has been honored to receive a seven-year residency at New Dramatists, The Actors Theatre of Louisville's Heideman Award, an Ars Nova Uncharted residency, commissions from Broadway Across America and EST/Sloan, and multiple MacDowell Colony residencies. Her plays include Green Girl (SPF '08 at The Public); House on Stilts (South Coast Rep Commission); Kudzu (Trustus); and others. Current projects are Wind-Up Girl (Ars Nova Uncharted; St. Louis Rep's Ignite Festival), a new musical about René Descartes, and Jenny Talks to Aliens (EST/Sloan commission). Sarah is an MFA graduate of playwriting at the University of Iowa and of musical theatre writing at NYU. She grew up in Hong Kong, Belgium, and South Carolina, and now lives in Queens. S
HAINA TAUB (2019 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre lyricist) is a Vermont-raised, Brooklyn-based songwriter and performer. She has the won the Jonathan Larson Grant, the Fred Ebb Award, the Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award, and the ASCAP Lucille and Jack Yellen Award. Taub has starred in her musical adaptations of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and As You Like It at The Public Theater's Delacorte in Central Park, commissioned and produced for their Public Works initiative. Both musicals are receiving current and upcoming productions regionally and around the world, most recently at London's Young Vic. She's currently writing a musical about Alice Paul and the American women's suffrage movement and she's writing lyrics for the upcoming Broadway musical of The Devil Wears Prada, with music by Sir Elton John. Taub's work was featured in Lincoln Center's American Songbook concert series and she recently made her Carnegie Hall debut performing her music with the New York Pops. She wrote the score for and co-starred in Bill Irwin and David Shiner's Old Hats, directed by Tina Landau at the Signature Theatre and A.C.T. Her songs have been performed by Audra McDonald and Sutton Foster, and she wrote the theme song for Julie Andrews' Netflix series Julie's Greenroom as well as many songs for Sesame Street. She co-wrote the opening number for the 2018 Tony Awards. She earned a Lucille Lortel Award nomination as Mary in the off-Broadway run of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, and appeared in the original cast and on the cast album of Hadestown at New York Theatre Workshop. She has an ongoing concert residency at Joe's Pub and her two solo records, Visitors and Die Happy are available at www.shainataub.com.
Charlie Sohne (2019 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre librettist), along with composer Tim Rosser, received a 2015 Jonathan Larson Award, ASCAP's 2015 Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award and the 2016 San Diego Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Original Score. Their show, The Boy Who Danced on Air (NAMT 2013) had its world premiere at The Diversionary Theatre and its Off-Broadway premiere at the Abingdon Theatre (directed by Tony Speciale, choreographed by Nejla Yatkin). The show's cast album was released by Broadway Records, featuring a bonus track performed by India.Arie. Their pilot, Truth Slash Fiction (directed by Daniel Schloss), won best comedy at SeriesFest and ITVFest, and their song cycle, With The Right Music, made its premiere with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra in February of 2018. They're currently working on a musical adaptation of the novel Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and developing a new show commissioned by New York City Children's Theater, Talk To Me. Tim and Charlie were also 2014-15 Dramatists Guild Fellows, members of The Civilians' R&D Group and writers at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, ASCAP's Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project and the Yale Institute for Music Theatre. Their songs have been seen at their sold-out 54 Below show, Birdland, Contemporary Classics at Seattle Rep, Cutting Edge Composers at Joe's Pub, ALNM at Rockwell in Los Angeles, Above The Arts in London, a sold out show at Broadway au Carre in Paris, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. They are the songwriting team behind India.Arie's single, High Above.