Michelle Elliott and Adam Gwon Win 2011 Kleban Prize for Excellence in Musical Theatre Writing

By Kenneth Jones
11 May 2011

Adam Gwon
Adam Gwon
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Recipients of the 2011 Kleban Prize, honoring excellence in theatre lyrics and libretti, are composer-lyricist Adam Gwon and book writer-lyricist Michelle Elliott.

Each writer gets $100,000 in two installments, representing one of the largest cash prizes for dramatists in the United States.

Gwon (who won the Kleban in the lyricist category) wrote the musical Ordinary Days, produced in Roundabout Theatre Company's Underground initiative in 2009. Ghostlight Records released its cast album.The Boy Detective Fails, Gwon's new musical with librettist Joe Meno, will be presented by Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, in 2011-12. He is also the recipient of the 2008 Fred Ebb Award for excellence in musical theatre songwriting.

Elliot (who won the Kleban as librettist) is the book writer and co-lyricist of The Yellow Wood (presented at New York Musical Theatre Festival and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals). The Yellow Wood also received the 2006 Richard Rodgers Development Award and the Daryl Roth Award. With composer Danny Larsen, whom she met at NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, Elliott also wrote the musical Cloaked, which received a Jonathan Larson Grant earlier this year.



The Kleban Prize is named for late lyricist Edward Kleban (A Chorus Line), who established the award in his will. According to Variety, this year's judges included Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime), Michael Korie (Grey Gardens) and David Zippel (City of Angels).