The 16th Annual Kleban Award for the most promising musical theatre librettist goes to co-librettists Laurence Holzman and Felicia Needleman. The Award for most promising lyricist resulted in a tie between Alison Louise Hubbard and co-lyricists Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak.
The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, best known as the Tony and Pulitzer Prize award winner for the musical A Chorus Line. The will made provision for two annual Awards, each in the amount of $100,000 payable over two years, to be given to the most promising librettist and lyricist in American musical theatre. The judges making the final determination this year were Cheryl L. Davis, Susan Drury and Ken Stone.
Bios of the winners follow:
Laurence Holzman and Felicia Needleman have been collaborating on musical theatre for many years, after first meeting in Modern Drama class at Columbia College. They write book and lyrics together. They are currently preparing to workshop their two latest musicals, The Jerusalem Syndrome (music by Kyle Rosen), an original musical comedy based on the strange but true psychological phenomenon which causes visitors to Jerusalem to suddenly flip out and believe that they are characters from the Bible; and Wallenberg (music by Benjamin Rosenbluth), which "tells the amazing and heroic story of the Swedish diplomat credited with saving the lives of over 100,000 Jews during World War II (www.wallenbergthemusical.com)." A staged reading of Wallenberg was presented as part of New Voices Collective's First Draft Musicals series at Symphony Space, and then again at the JCC in Manhattan in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg's mysterious disappearance. Holzman and Needleman are developing these projects with Emmy-winning director Annette Jolles, with whom they have enjoyed a long-term collaboration on several of their musicals. Their last show, an original musical entitled Suddenly Hope (music by Morris Bernstein and Kyle Rosen), was presented in 2003 at the Denver Civic Theatre. Prior productions of that show include engagements at the Garfield Theatre in La Jolla, CA and the Stamford Center for the Arts. Holzman and Needleman also conceived and wrote the lyrics to That Time of the Year, a musical revue of original Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's songs highlighting the joys and anxieties of the holiday season (www.thattimeoftheyear.com). The show has been presented in Manhattan on and off for the past 10 years. The original cast recording of That Time of the Year was produced in 2000, and a DVD of the show will be available for the 2006 holiday season.
Their first show, a musical version of the 1942 film "I Married a Witch," was presented in the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop in 1995, and its title song earned them ASCAP's first-ever Sammy Cahn Award for Outstanding Lyricists. Holzman and Needleman are both alumni of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and members of the Dramatists Guild. Holzman is also a graduate of Columbia Law School and a father of two. He is the author/illustrator of "My Zoo," a rhyming picture book for children, and the co-author, with Marc Goldsmith, of the original screenplays "Fella" and "The Queen is in the Parlour."
Needleman toured in 42nd Street and taught tap at New York's Broadway Dance Center for several years. She is now a mother of three.
Alison Louise Hubbard wrote lyrics for The Enchanted Cottage, which was presented by the National Music Theatre Network in 2004 as a Director's Choice Award Winner, won the 2003 Jerry Bock Award, and was presented by National Alliance for Musical Theatre in 2002. She and longtime composer Kim Oler are members of The BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Her Little Women inaugurated the John Wulp Theatre in North Haven, ME, for a summer run in 2004, after having an Equity workshop in New York City in 2000 and winning the 1998 Richard Rodgers Development Award. Little Women, with its new book by Sean Hartley, is slated for production by Spirit of Broadway in Norwich, CT, in June 2006 and Syracuse University in October of 2006. Her newest musical, Buddy's Tavern (based on the movie "Two Family House") was presented at ASCAP in New York City in 2004. She wrote six touring musicals for Theatreworks/USA: The Secret Garden, Harriet the Spy, Little Women (play with music), Tom Sawyer, Class Clown (also produced by the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera) and Babes in Toyland. Her lyrics were featured in the revues Pets!, produced by Leahy Productions and published by Dramatic Publishing, and When the Cookie Crumbles, produced by Theatreworks/USA and published by MTI. She wrote a libretto for the opera, The Cop and the Anthem, which was produced by the Lake George Opera Co. and the NYU Opera Theatre.
Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak met as students in the very first class in the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Their musical Campaign of the Century is the winner of the 2006 California Musical Theatre Award from the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild, which is sponsoring a staged reading on June 4, 2006. Previous staged readings have taken place at the 2004 Chicago Humanities Festival, and the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival, starring Michael Rupert, Sally Mayes, Evan Pappas, Stacy Morgain Lewis, KT Sullivan, Ron Orbach and Tom Alan Robbins. Based on a book by Greg Mitchell, Campaign of the Century has been developed with the support of the Sundance Institute's Playwrights Retreat at Ucross, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, American Musical Theatre of San Jose, Other Voices, and the National Endowment of the Arts, among others. Kind Hearts and Coronets was performed in a staged reading in the Breaking Ground Series at the Huntington Theatre in Boston on April 6, 2006, starring Douglas Sills, Nancy Anderson, Jill Paice and Jonathan Hadley, and will be directed by Nicholas Martin at the 2006 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, July 10-30, 2006. Kind Hearts and Coronets, based on the classic 1949 film, was seen in New York in condensed presentations in October, 2004, and January 2005, starring Raul Esparza, Malcolm Gets, Nancy Anderson, Rebecca Luker, Melissa Errico and Sean Allan Krill, and has been developed with the support of the Ucross Foundation and the William Inge Foundation. Robert L. Freedman's musical Grand Duchy, written with composer John Bayless, had its premiere in Santa Barbara, California in 2003, after staged readings at Playwrights Horizons in New York, the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, and the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, California. Freedman was nominated for two Emmys and a Writers Guild Award for the ABC miniseries "Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows," starring Judy Davis. He won the Writers Guild Award for HBO's "A Deadly Secret," and was nominated for The Wonderful World of Disney's "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella," starring Brandy, Whitney Houston, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, Jason Alexander and Victor Garber. A stage production based on his teleplay has been performed in New York and at the Kennedy Center, and toured the United States.
Freedman has an MFA in Dramatic Writing and Musical Theatre from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, and a BA in Theatre from UCLA. Freedman lives in Southern California with his wife, Jean Kauffman, and their son, Max.
Commissioned by the Harmony Project of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, Steven Lutvak adapted A.R. Gurney's The Wayside Inn, and was named Artist-in-Residence at the Eugene O’Neill Opera Music/Theatre Conference. He received a New American Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for his musical Esmeralda (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis). His musical Almost September premiered at the St. Louis Rep, was subsequently produced at Missouri Rep, and won eight Bay Area Critic's Circle Awards and seven Drama-Logue Awards for its run at Theatre Works in Palo Alto, California. Lutvak scored Off-Broadway's Hannah Senesh, which was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, and was later produced at the Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Theatre Company, the Baltimore Center Stage, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and at Penguin Rep, before touring throughout Canada and Israel. During the 1994 Toronto Summer Arts Festival, a revue of Lutvak's songs was presented as part of Garth Drabinsky and Live Entertainment of Canada's New Voices Series. Lutvak wrote the title song for Paramount Classics' hit film "Mad Hot Ballroom," now the ninth most successful documentary of all time, and co-composed the score to "Anything But Love," starring Andrew McCarthy and Eartha Kitt. As a singer/songwriter, Lutvak has sold out shows at the Russian Tea Room, Rainbow and Stars and The Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room. In 1998, he debuted at Carnegie Recital Hall, and in November of 1999, at Carnegie Hall. The release of his CD, "The Time It Takes" was celebrated with a sold-out run at Joe's Pub. Awards include the first Johnny Mercer Foundation Emerging American Songwriter Award, two Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Grants for his work in the theatre, two Bistro Awards and three MAC Awards.
Submission guidelines and an application for the 2006-07 Kleban Awards are available at the New Dramatists website, www.newdramatists.org. The postmark deadline for the next competition is Sept. 15, 2006.