Richard Rodgers Awards Honor Cheer Wars and Rosa Parks Musicals

By Adam Hetrick
March 12, 2009

The musicals Cheer Wars and Rosa Parks have been named the winners of the 2009 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has honored the Karlan Judd and Gordon Leary musical Cheer Wars, as well as Scott Ethier and Jeff Hughes biographical musical Rosa Parks with the award that provides financial support for the further development of the works.

With music by Karlan Judd and book and lyrics by Gordon Leary, Cheer Wars, "is a story of royal lineages, vengeful mothers, usurped thrones, everlasting innocence, and the quest for the perfect 'herkie' as two women wage an epic battle for control of the New London Lady Leopard Varsity Cheer Squad."

Rosa Parks, featuring music by Scott Ethier and book and lyrics by Jeff Hughes, "tells the tale of one of the Civil Rights Movement's most storied heroines in the months leading up to her fateful bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama. Uncovering forgotten heroes and re-discovering celebrated ones, Rosa Parks depicts how a seemingly ordinary woman became renowned for one extraordinary act of bravery."

Winners were chosen by a six-member jury, under the chairmanship of Stephen Sondheim, that also featured Lynn Ahrens, John Guare, Sheldon Harnick, David Ives, Richard Maltby, Jr. and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Richard Rodgers Awards were endowed by the famed composer and are administered by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The awards, according to press notes, "provide financial support for productions, studio productions, or staged readings by nonprofit theatres in New York City."