Bob Ost, president of Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU), announced the establishment of the award.
The winner will be announced June 26 at the conclusion of the series and will be given to a play "that reflects on a current issue within our culture (regardless of the time period of the play itself)."
The award is named for Joel and Phyllis Ehrlich, driving forces in the entertainment world. Joel was senior vice president at Warner Bros. and senior vice president at Marvel Entertainment. He is now president of The Harmony Entertainment Group, developing and producing a wide variety of projects in New York City and around the country. Phyllis is an award-winning cable television writer and a senior vice president for the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim TV Network. The husband-and-wife team has recently started collaborating as theatre producers and developers of new talent.
"We are excited about helping TRU nurture and encourage serious new works for theatre," stated Phyllis Ehrlich.
The TRU Voices Play Reading Series is unique in that it seeks to develop new producers as well as new works, and the Ehrlich award will be given to both the writer and producer of the selected play. "By supporting the development of new producers, we hope to create more opportunities for all theatre artists," stated Ost. "Better producers will translate into better theatre, which is good for everyone."
Readings are producer-driven, which means plays are either submitted by producers who want to enter into a relationship with a new writer and work; or else TRU finds a producer for a play before it can enter into final consideration for the series.
Readings are followed by industry talkbacks that focus on producer concerns like marketing and budget.
Producers in the TRU series come from all levels of experience, from first-timers to those with Off-Broadway and Broadway credits, as demonstrated in the current series.
The series opened June 4 with To Barcelona! by Michael Niederman, produced by newcomer Sarah Melissa Rotker, directed by Elyzabeth Gorman.
The June 11 presentation is The Jesus Hickey by Luke Yankee (son of the late great legendary actress Eileen Heckart), produced by Jack W. Batman, whose Broadway credits include Enchanted April, and who is just coming off of producing the 2007 Gayfest Series. The play will feature Broadway and TV star Frances Sternhagen, and is directed by Casey Childs, the founding artistic director of Primary Stages.
Monday, June 18 offers Sparks by Helen Sheehy, produced by Pat Addiss, whose Broadway credits include Little Women, Bridge & Tunnel and Spring Awakening; she is partnered with producer-director Ludovica Villar-Hauser who has been represented Off-Broadway with the long-running hit The Countess.
The final play, June 25, will be The Ibsen Follies by Skot Davis, produced by RK Greene and The Storyline Project LLC, recently represented Off-Broadway with the comedy hit revival of the classic farce Room Service.
All performances will be at New York's The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, beginning at 7 PM, and each will be followed by a "Dollars and Sense" panel featuring prominent commercial producers, artistic directors and general managers discussing the play and giving advice to its producers.
Scheduled panelists include commercial producers Ken Davenport (Altar Boys, Awesome 80's Prom), Pam Koslow (Jelly's Last Jam, Jane Eyre), Jennifer Manocherian (Adrift in Macao, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline or Change, Stomp); Dan Markley (High Fidelity, Damn Yankees revival, Stomp, Vagina Monologues, Shockheaded Peter), Cheryl Wiesenfeld (Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, The Exonerated, Caroline or Change, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Legally Blonde); general managers Peter Bogyo of the Sprecher Organization (Sly Fox with Richard Dreyfus, Fortune's Fool) and Ricky Stevens (Radio Golf); and not-for-profit leaders Elysabeth Kleinhans of 59E59, artistic director of Animated Theaterworks; James Morgan, artistic director of the York Theatre Company; and Michael Parva, artistic director of The Directors Company.
Reservations are strongly suggested for this popular series. Call (212) 714-7628. For more information about the series, contact TRU president Bob Ost at (212) 864-3753.
TRU was founded in 1990 by award winning playwright/composer Ost, his writing partner Gary Hughes and playwright Cheryl Davis, who was a 2005 recipient of the prestigious Kleban Award for her libretto of the musical Barnstormer.