After considering almost 150 applications, judges chose Mark Allen, Dave Malloy, the songwriting team of Thomas Mizer and Curtis Moore, and Ryan Scott Oliver as 2009 recipients. The grants, totaling $10,000, will be presented at an invitation-only event on March 17 in New York City, where musical numbers by the 2008 and 2009 recipients will be performed.
After a team of 23 readers screened each recent submission twice, the final selections were made by a panel comprising composer Mark Hollmann, producer Kevin McCollum, director John Rando and music director Tim Weil.
Originally administered by the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation (from 1997-2008), the Jonathan Larson Grants became a part of The Wing earlier this year, adding to the organization's history of programs designed to support theatre professionals at the beginning of their careers. The Wing is best known for co-presenting the Tony Awards.
About the 2009 Jonathan Larson Grant Recipients
Ryan Scott Oliver is a composer and lyricist. He wrote the music and lyrics for 2008 Richard Rodgers Award Winner Alive at Ten, Darling (Pace New Musicals 2009), the song cycle Out of My Head, music for Angus Oblong's The Debbies and music and co-lyrics for the hit YouTube TV show "The Battery's Down." His work has been presented in showcases including the Disney/ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, Goodspeed Musicals, William Finn & Barrington Stages, The York Theatre, Monday Nights New Voices, the Festival of New American Musicals in Los Angeles, and most recently "The Ryan Scott Oliver Project" conceived by Philly Music Theatre Works. He is a Dramatists Guild Fellow, and the recipient of numerous awards including the first-ever ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award for Excellence in Lyric Writing. Currently he is working on an untitled show for TheatreworksUSA which will open Off-Broadway in 2010. He holds a B.A. in music composition, UCLA; and M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Writing, NYU-Tisch, and is a member of ASCAP. *
Under the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation, more than 75 composers, lyricists and book writers were recognized at the start of their careers. Past recipients of Jonathan Larson Grants include Nell Benjamin, John Bucchino, Kirsten Childs, Ricky Ian Gordon, Amanda Green, Joe Iconis and Michael Korie.
This is the first year that the American Theatre Wing administered the awards. In a statement, Jonathan Lason's father Al Larson stated, "When the decision to affiliate with a larger organization was made, the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation, and the Larson family, were delighted to find a number of groups that were interested in carrying on our work in serving the theatre community; I'm sure that each would have done an excellent job. We were unanimous in our belief, however, that the American Theatre Wing would be the best 'fit.' We feel honored to know that through the Jonathan Larson Grants Fund of the ATW, the people known for the Tony Awards will continue to provide financial assistance to deserving composers and lyricists in Jonathan's name for years to come. We are, and will continue to be, grateful to the ATW board of directors, and to their executive director Howard Sherman, for taking on what we’ve found over the last thirteen years to be a difficult, though highly rewarding, task."
Ted Chapin, chairman of the board of the American Theatre Wing, stated, "The Wing is very pleased to be awarding the first group of what we hope will be many, many more grants in years to come. We are so honored to have the Jonathan Larson Grants as one of The Wing's programs, continuing in the tradition of helping the world of the theatre, present and future."
Howard Sherman, executive director of The Wing, added, "Receiving and reviewing more than 140 applications for this grant is a testament to the variety of styles and subjects being tackled by today's writers of musical theatre. This year's recipients are the tip of the iceberg. The widespread depth of interest and commitment is extraordinary, and our only regret is that we're not able to recognize even more of the diverse and talented artists who are pursuing careers writing musicals."
The late Jonathan Larson's critically acclaimed musical Rent received numerous awards and honors, including a Tony Award for Best Musical, an Obie Award and the Pulitzer Prize. While the original Broadway production of Rent closed on Sept. 7, 2008, a new national tour began in January 2009, featuring several members of the original cast.
For additional information about the Jonathan Larson Grants and all American Theatre Wing programs, go to www.americantheatrewing.org.