Nathan Tysen and Arthur Perlman Will Receive 24th Annual Kleban Prizes

By Michael Gioia
02 May 2014

Lyricist Nathan Tysen and librettist Arthur Perlman will receive the 24th annual Kleban Prize June 23 in a private, invitation-only ceremony hosted by ASCAP and BMI.



The Kleban Foundation announced May 2 that Tysen will receive the Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre lyricist, wake up and Perlman will receive the Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist.

The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist of A Chorus Line. The will made provisions 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 American musical theatre.

This year's judges included Jason Danieley (Next to Normal, Curtains, The Full Monty, Candide), Colleen Jennings-Roggensack (executive director of Arizona State University Gammage and assistant vice president for Cultural Affairs) and Broadway cast recording executive producer and playwright Bill Rosenfield (original cast recordings of Chicago, Avenue Q, The Last Five Years, Cabaret, Ragtime and more).

"For over 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."

Tysen is a Brooklyn-based songwriter and performer. Musical theatre work with composer Chris Miller includes lyrics for The Burnt Part Boys (2009 Lucille Lortel nomination for Best New Musical) and Fugitive Songs (2008 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Revue), both of which have cast albums on Yellow Sound Label. Current projects include lyrics for an adaptation of the popular novel "Tuck Everlasting" (book by Claudia Shear, music by Chris Miller, direction by Casey Nicholaw) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's film "Amelie" (book by Craig Lucas, music by Dan Messe, direction by Pam McKinnon). He also is writing the book and lyrics to the rock theatre piece Stillwater with his band Joe's Pet Project.

Read more about Tysen (and composer Miller) in Playbill.com's Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know.

Perlman has written book and lyrics (with music by Jeff Lunden) for Wings, based on Arthur Kopit's play (Goodman Theatre in Chicago — Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work; Public Theater in New York — Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical); Another Midsummer Night, a modern adaptation/sequel of the Shakespeare play (Goodman Theatre, American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia and TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA); Once On a Summer's Day, based on the life and work of Lewis Carroll (Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York); and The Devil In The Flesh, adapted from Raymond Radiguet's World War I novel (commissioned by The Shubert Organization — won a Richard Rodgers Development Award). He has written five family musicals and two plays for Theatreworks USA, including adaptations of The Little Prince, Huckleberry Finn and Oliver Twist; his musical The Civil War was produced last summer at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. He did the script adaptation for the Tony-nominated revival of Finian's Rainbow and, with composer Louis Rosen, he was a co-librettist for A Child's Garden, produced by The Melting Pot Theatre Company in New York. Current projects include adaptations of Laura Esquivel's novel "Swift As Desire" (with Jeff Lunden) and John Steinbeck's "The Pearl" (with Louis Rosen).

Previous recipients of the annual Kleban Prize include David Lindsay-Abaire (Shrek), Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years), John Bucchino (A Catered Affair, It's Only Life), Gretchen Cryer (I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road, The Last Sweet Days of Isaac), Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, Happiness), Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), Michael John LaChiusa (Giant, See What I Wanna See, The Wild Party), Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid) and John Weidman (Pacific Overtures, Road Show, Assassins).

The Kleban Foundation board of directors includes André Bishop, Elliot H. Brown, Sheldon Harnick, Richard Maltby, Jr., Richard Terrano, John Weidman and Maury Yeston.

Submission guidelines and an application for the 2015 Kleban Prize are available on the New Dramatists website, NewDramatists.org. The postmark deadline for the next competition is Sept. 15.