The 2016 Jonathan Larson Grants for emerging musical theatre writers will go to César Alvarez (book, music and lyrics), Nikko Benson (music and lyrics), Carson Kreitzer (book and lyrics) and Sam Salmond (book, music and lyrics).
The four grants of $10,000 each will be presented in a ceremony March 21 in a private event at the WNYC Greene Space. The event will feature special performances of the recipients’ work.
“The Jonathan Larson Grants give us the opportunity each year to support exciting new theater makers and invest in the changing landscape of the American musical, one writer at a time,” said Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, which administers the grants. There are no strings attached to the grants, which are given to emerging composers, lyricists and book writers, to help to continue Larson’s dream of "infusing musical theatre with a contemporary, joyful, urban vitality," according to a Wing statement.
This year's winners were chosen by panel consisting of composer/lyricist (and past Larson Grant recipient) Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812), producer Kristin Caskey (president of Fox Theatricals and producer of Fun Home) and director Kristin Marting (artistic director of HERE Arts Center).
Alvarez, Benson and Salmond are also receiving The Saw Island Foundation Recording Grants to help arrange for the production of improved demo recordings of their work.
Past recipients of the Larson Grants include Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (A Christmas Story), Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), Chad Beguelin & Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer), John Bucchino (A Catered Affair), Laurence O’Keefe (Bat Boy: The Musical), Michael Korie (Grey Gardens) and Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody)
Alvarez has written music for Futurity, An Octoroon, The Foundry Theater's Good Person of Szechwan and The Universe is a Small Hat.
Benson's projects include Nikola Tesla Drops The Beat. His songs have been featured at cabaret venues around the city.
Kreitzer is a 2015/16 McKnight Fellow in Playwriting at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, and her current projects include Capital Crime!, a commission for the Guthrie Theatre, and Lempicka, a new musical with composer Matt Gould.
Salmond is writing music and lyrics for an adaptation of Eighty-Sixed, the novel by humorist and AIDS activist David Feinberg.