The 27th Annual Kleban Prizes for musical theatre writing are being presented February 6 in a private ceremony hosted by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop at ASCAP headquarters in New York.
The prize for the most promising musical theatre lyricist goes to Daniel Zaitchik, and the prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist goes to Lisa Kron. The awards come with a $100,000 check for each winner.
Kron is best known for her Tony-winning Fun Home, for which she took home the statue for Best Book of a Musical and shared the Tony for Best Score with composer Jeanine Tesori. Prior to Fun Home acclaim, she penned plays Well and 2.5 Minute Ride.
Zaitchik, who is also a composer and playwright, wrote lyrics (along with book and music) for Picnic at Hanging Rock, which was developed at Lincoln Center and the Eugene O'Neill Center, and which has had productions around the U.S.
The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, best known as the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist of the musical A Chorus Line. Kleban’s will made provisions for two annual prizes, which in recent years have totaled $100,000 each, payable over two years, to be given to the most promising lyricist and librettist in American Musical Theatre. The awards, according to press notes, are “bestowed not just for an artist’s previous achievements, but for the promise of creativity to come.”
Previous winners of the Kleban Award have included Jason Robert Brown (Parade); Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder); and Avenue Q writers Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez. Lopez was one of this year’s judges, along with his collaborator (and wife) Kristen Anderson-Lopez, actor Mary Testa, and producer Ira Weitzman.
(Updated Feb. 6, 2017)