The Fabulist and The Tutor have won the Academy of Arts and Letters' 2001 Richard Rodgers Awards for musicals. Each show will get $38,000 toward a staged reading, which must be done by the end of 2002. An experienced not-for-profit in Manhattan will produce the readings for seven performances. Each author involved also pockets $3,000.
The Fabulist features music and lyrics by David Spencer and book by Stephen Witkin and is based on John Vornholt's 1993 novel. According to Spencer, the piece "retells Aesop's life, told as a fable about him." The Tutor has book and lyrics by Maryrose Wood, music by Andrew Gerle, and tells of a neurotic novelist hired to help a punky teen get into Princeton.
Last year, The Spitfire Grill won the Rodgers Production Award, while Heading East took the Reading Award. This year, both winners earned Reading Awards. Coincidentally, both winners were also developed at the famed BMI Workshop for musical theatre, though The Tutor got its start at the 2001 Eugene O'Neill Music Theatre Conference in Waterford, CT.
The late composer Richard Rodgers endowed the musical theatre awards programs with a $1 million gift. The first musical theatre member elected to the prestigious Academy, Rodgers sought to "encourage new talent in the field of musical theatre."
Stephen Sondheim again chaired the Academy committee that chose the winning musicals. The remainder of the group comprises Lynn Ahrens, Jack Beeson, Sheldon Harnick, R.W.B. Lewis and Richard Maltby, Jr. Of the many awards the Academy presents annually, only the Richard Rodgers Awards are open to competition. For application information send an SASE to: The American Academy of Arts and Letters, 633 W. 155 St., New York, NY, 10032.
—By David Lekfkowitz and Murdoch McBride