As previously announced, librettist Jeremy Desmon and lyricist Joe Iconis were selected to receive the 17th annual prize, which awards $100,000 to each writer.
New Dramatists administers the prize. The award was created by and honors the late lyricist of A Chorus Line, Edward Kleban.
Desmon wrote book, music and lyrics for The Girl in the Frame, seen regionally, and his musical I See London, I See France (The Underwear Musical) is expected at the New York Musical Theater Festival this year. The writer is a graduate of Stanford University, the NYU/Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and he is a former Jonathan Larson Fellow at the Dramatists Guild.
Iconis wrote the music and lyrics and co-wrote the libretto to The Black Suits (with co-librettist Robert Maddock), expected at Off-Broadway's MCC Theater in the coming year. He is a Long Island native and a grad of the NYU-Tisch Graduate Musical Writing Program. He is the recipient of a Jonathan Larson Award and a Backstage Bistro Award.
The final committee of judges for the Kleban included Rick Elice (Jersey Boys librettist), Carol Hall (songwriter of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and agent Charles Kopelman. 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 of $100,000 to be given to the most promising librettist and lyricist in American Musical Theatre. Totaling a collective $200,000 annually, The Kleban Award is the most significant prize for musical theatre librettists and lyricists. Over the past 18 years, The Kleban Foundation has awarded grants totaling more than one million dollars.
Kleban was an alumnus of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.