Musicals by Duchan, Pasek, Paul and Gerle Win 2011 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater

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14 Feb 2011

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

The musicals Dogfight and Gloryana are the recipients of the 2011 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater, the American Academy of Arts and Letters announced on Feb. 11.

Dogfight, which was awarded a studio production, is by Peter Duchan (book), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (music and lyrics). Gloryana, which was awarded a staged reading, is by Andrew Gerle.

The intent of the Rodgers Award is to nurture talented composers and playwrights by enabling their musicals to be produced in New York City. This year's jury included Stephen Sondheim (chair), Lynn Ahrens, John Guare, Sheldon Harnick, David Ives, Richard Maltby, Jr., Jeanine Tesori and John Weidman.

Set in 1960s San Francisco, Dogfight (based on a screenplay by Bob Comfort) tells the story of Eddie Birdlace, a Marine about to ship out to Vietnam. He and his pals hold a cruel competition, a "dogfight" party, in which each man brings the ugliest date he can find to a party. Eddie finds Rose, a diner waitress whose idealism and compassion challenge him on his last evening before he ships out. When he returns, a broken man, to a changed America, he may finally be ready for the redemptive kindness Rose offers, according to the writers.

Gloryana is "an eclectic original musical centering around a shooting in a racially divided small Mississippi town and the stories of those whose lives are touched by it." As modern Southerners struggle with their cultural identity and two teenagers stare down death row, "the letters between as Confederate soldier and a Union nurse give us hope for the future."

The awards provide financial support for productions, studio productions, staged readings of original musicals by nonprofit theatres.

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