By Andrew Gans
14 May 2012
The award for the most promising musical theatre lyricist has gone to Marcy Heisler, while the Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist was a tie between Andrew Gerle and Matt Schatz. Each of the artists will receive a $100,000 prize.
The 2012 prizes will be presented June 18 in a private ceremony at ASCAP.
The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, best known as the Tony-winning lyricist of the musical A Chorus Line. The will made provision 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 the American musical theatre.
The judges making the final determination this year were Tony Award-winning librettist Marshall Brickman, president and executive director of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization Ted Chapin and Tony Award-winning actress Debra Monk.
“For two decades, The Kleban Prize has recognized and honored the American Musical Theatre’s brightest developing talents,” said Tony Award winner Richard Maltby, Jr., president of the Kleban Foundation, in a statement. “The Kleban Prize is unique in that it is bestowed not just for an artist’s previous achievements, but for the promise of creativity to come. In Ed Kleban’s experience, young composers always seemed able to support themselves in the theatre, but promising lyricists and librettists often had to struggle. This Prize was Kleban’s attempt to help promising writers when they needed support most -- when starting out. The Prize has recognized musical theatre artists who went on to create such notable productions as Avenue Q, Grey Gardens, The Wild Party, Parade, Shrek, The Last Five Years, The Little Mermaid, Assassins, The Wedding Singer and Legally Blonde.”
Previous recipients of the annual Kleban Prize include David Lindsay-Abaire, Jason Robert Brown, John Bucchino, Gretchen Cryer, Michael Korie, Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, Michael John LaChiusa, Glenn Slater and John Weidman.
Marcy Heisler received the Fred Ebb Award in 2009 for outstanding songwriting, along with longtime composing partner Zina Goldrich. Among their musicals currently in development are an adaptation of the 1998 film "Ever After" in collaboration with director Kathleen Marshall; Screaming Like A Fool, a collection of romantic comedy songs, and The Great American Mousical, written with Hunter Bell and premiering this November at Goodspeed Opera House's Norma Terris Theatre. The production will be directed by Julie Andrews, choreographed by Christopher Gatelli, and designed by Tony Walton. Past productions include Off-Broadway's Junie B Jones, nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award in the category of Best Musical, and currently touring with Theatreworks USA, and Dear Edwina, which played Off-Broadway for three seasons at Daryl Roth's DR2 theatre, received Drama Desk nominations for Best Music and Best Lyrics, and is currently licensed by Music Theatre International. Also licensed by MTI is her Helen Hayes Award nominated musical farce Snow White, Rose Red (and Fred), commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for their 2010 season. As a co-writer/performer, she co-stars in The Marcy and Zina Show, which is based at Birdland in NYC and travels to London in January 2013. An active member of both ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild, she serves on the Publications Committee and is a contributing writer to Dramatist magazine. She graduated with High Honors from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing Program, and previously studied acting at Northwestern University. She currently resides in New York City.
Andrew Gerle wrote book, music and lyrics for GLORYANA, which received a 2011 Richard Rodgers Award and was presented in a series of readings at the Public Theater last fall. Other works for theater include Meet John Doe (with Eddie Sugarman, 2006 Jonathan Larson Award, nine Helen Hayes nominations); The Tutor (with Maryrose Wood, three Richard Rodgers Awards 2002-2004); Brighter Things (based on the stories of John Cheever); A Perfect Christmas (with Maryrose Wood, based on the stories of O. Henry); and the play Renovations (based on the memoir by John Marchese, world premiere 2011 at White Plains Performing Arts Center). As a musical director, he has worked on dozens of Off-Broadway, regional and touring productions, and was heard as the “hands” of Coalhouse Walker, Jr., in the recent Tony Award-winning revival of Ragtime. He is on the faculty of Yale University, where he teaches musical theater songwriting and performance.
Matt Schatz is a playwright, lyricist, composer and screenwriter based in New York City. Most recently, he was commissioned by the Actors Theatre of Louisville to write music and lyrics for Oh, Gastronomy! which premiered this spring at the 36th Humana Festival of New American Plays. In February 2012, his original musical Love Trapezoid received a developmental production at the Astoria Performing Arts Center. His play The Tallest Building in the World enjoyed a critically acclaimed run at Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey in 2011. Another original musical, Georama, with a book co-written by West Hyler will be developed this summer at the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Minnesota. He’s an alumnus of “Youngblood” at EST, and holds an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University.