The award, named in honor of the late award-winning lyricist, was presented by David Hyde Pierce at a by-invitation-only ceremony in the Penthouse Lobby of The American Airlines Theater.
The Fred Ebb Award, according to press notes, "recognizes excellence in musical theatre songwriting, by a songwriter or songwriting team that has not yet achieved significant commercial success. The award is meant to encourage and support aspiring songwriters to create new works for the musical theatre." The prize includes a $50,000 award and a one-night-only showcase of the winner’s work. The Fred Ebb Foundation is funded by royalties from Mr. Ebb’s vast catalogue of work. Each year, the Foundation also makes a donation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Past winners include John Bucchino (2005), Steve Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman (2006), Peter Mills (2007), Adam Gwon (2008), Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (2009), Douglas C. Cohen (2010) and Jeff Blumenkrantz (2011).
The selection panel featured Foundation Trustee Mitchell S. Bernard; actress Mary Testa; lyricist, writer and composer Sheldon Harnick; music director David Loud; playwright and producer Tim Pinckney; and theatre producer Arthur Whitelaw. Sam Willmott is a musical theatre composer/lyricist whose work has been performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Walnut Street Theatre, 54 Below, Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre, The York Theatre and other venues across the country. His work includes Standardized Testing - The Musical!!!! (2009 Kennedy Center ACTF Musical Theatre Award for music and lyrics, Penn State NU Musicals Series, published through Playscripts, Inc., Emerson College's 2012-2013 fall mainstage musical), the mini-musical Scarlet Takes a Tumble (2011 Humana Festival Heideman Award Finalist), and Yo, Vikings! with lyricist Marcus Stevens (commissioned by Upper Darby Summer Stage, 2011 Richard Rodgers Award Finalist, 2012 Weston New Musical Award nominee).