Stacey Luftig & Phillip Palmer Named Winners of 2015 Fred Ebb Award
The Fred Ebb Foundation in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company will present the eleventh annual Fred Ebb Award for aspiring musical theatre songwriters to Stacey Luftig and Phillip Palmer. The award, named in honor of the late award-winning lyricist Fred Ebb, will be presented by Karen Ziemba on Monday, November 30th from 6-8pm at a by-invitation-only ceremony in the Penthouse Lounge 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. 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), Jeff Blumenkrantz (2011), Sam Willmott (2012), Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond (2013), and Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen (2014). The selection panel is comprised of: Foundation Trustee Mitchell Bernard; lyricist, writer and composer Sheldon Harnick; music director David Loud; actress Kelli O'Hara; playwright and producer Tim Pinckney; and theatre producer Arthur Whitelaw. Each year, the Foundation also makes a donation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Stacey Luftig is an award-winning lyricist, librettist, and playwright. She wrote lyrics for My Heart Is the Drum, which will have its world premiere at Village Theatre in 2016; previous development includes a production at Kent State University and presentations at the BMI Workshop, NAMT, and the Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals (music by Phillip Palmer, book by Jennie Redling). Her lyrics were featured in That's Life, a long-running Off-Broadway revue that was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award and toured nationwide (music by Carolyn Sloan). Her musical Understood Betsy (music, Mary Feinsinger, additional music, Robert Elhai) won the Jackie White Memorial National Children's Playwriting Award, the National Children's Theatre Festival Award, and was produced at the Actors' Playhouse. Her operetta Story of an Hour (music by Michael Valenti) premiered with the Portland Chamber Orchestra. Her play Jinxed, about Amelia Earhart and Jackie Cochran, was an O'Neill National Playwrights Conference Finalist, awarded first place and audience favorite at Dayton Playhouse FutureFest, and was presented as staged readings at the Abingdon Theater, Penguin Rep, and the Great Plains Theatre Conference. She has also written animated television episodes for Pinky Dinky Doo, produced by the Sesame Workshop.
Stacey is currently writing lyrics for a family musical that is partially in English, partially in Spanish, based on the award-winning book The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez written by René Colato Laínez (music by Mary Feinsinger, book by Susan Murray). She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the BMI Workshop; a five-time fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; and a member of the BMI Librettists Workshop, ASCAP, and the Dramatists Guild. www.staceyluftig.com
Phillip Palmer is a composer, arranger, and music director. His first full-length musical, My
Heart Is the Drum (book by Jennie Redling, lyrics by Stacey Luftig), will have its world premiere at the Village Theatre in the spring of 2016. Previous development of Drum has included presentations at the NAMT Festival of New Musicals (2013), the Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, and the BMI Musical Theatre Writing Workshop, as well as a production at Kent State University. He wrote the music for The Weatherman (book and lyrics by Alisa Klein Hauser, Clear Space Productions and Network One-Act Festival). Phillip's original dance compositions Three Miniatures and Tango have been choreographed and performed at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the ImageMovementSound Festival in Rochester, NY. He graduated from the Eastman School of Music and has studied traditional drumming and choral music in Ghana and South Africa.
Phillip draws inspiration for his theater writing in part from his work in international development. He is a commissioned Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), part of the U.S. State Department. In his capacity as an official U.S. diplomat, he lived and worked for five years in Southern Africa and Haiti, where he managed programs to help small farmers and businesses. He holds a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University, where his studies focused on alleviating poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
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 Scottsboro Boys opened on Broadway in 2010 and received 12 Tony Nominations, including Best Musical and Best Score, and earlier this year concluded a run in the West End at the Garrick Theatre. Rob Marshall and Sam Mendes's Tony Award winning production of Cabaret returned to Broadway in 2014, with Alan Cumming reprising his role as the Emcee and Three-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams in her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles. The Visit, starring Chita Rivera and George Hearn, received a staging at DC's Signature Theatre in 2008, a concert staging in NYC in the fall of 2011, and a production in Williamstown, starring Chita Rivera and Roger Rees and directed by John Doyle. This past spring, The Visit opened on Broadway and received five Tony nominations, including Best Musical and Best Score for Kander & Ebb.