The award, named in honor of the late, award-winning lyricist Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman), is presented by Tony winner Chita Rivera (Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Rink).
The Fred Ebb Award, according to press notes, "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 winners' work.
The Fred Ebb Foundation is funded by royalties from Ebb’s 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 and Zina Goldrich (2009), Douglas C. Cohen (2010), Jeff Blumenkrantz (2011), Sam Willmott (2012), and Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond (2013).
The selection panel comprises Fred Ebb foundation trustee Mitchell Bernard; lyricist, writer and composer Sheldon Harnick; music director David Loud; actress Debra Monk; playwright and producer Tim Pinckney; and theatre producer Arthur Whitelaw. Chris Miller (music) and Nathan Tysen (lyrics) have written The Burnt Part Boys (2010 Lucille Lortel Nomination, Best Musical) and Fugitive Songs (2008 Drama Desk Award Nomination, Outstanding Revue), both of which have cast albums on Yellow Sound Label. Their current projects include an adaptation of the popular novel Tuck Everlasting (direction by Casey Nicholaw, book by Claudia Shear), which will receive its world premiere in January 2015 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center Theater and Playwrights Horizons/Theatreworks Silicon Valley.
They have also written two circuses for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey, contributed to the revue Stars of David, and penned an adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s picture book, "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick." Their television work includes songs for "Sesame Street" (2012 Daytime Emmy Award) and "The Electric Company." They began their collaboration at NYU where they received their MFA's in musical theatre writing.