Kamala Sankaram and Songwriting Team Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham Are 2013 Jonathan Larson Grant Recipients

By Michael Gioia
February 13, 2013

Songwriting team Joshua Salzman (music) and Ryan Cunningham (book and lyrics) and composer Kamala Sankaram are the recipients of the 2013 Jonathan Larson Grants, the American Theatre Wing announced Feb. 13. The prestigious grants, totaling $10,000, will be presented March 24 at a private event at the WNYC Greene Space.



The event will feature special performances of the recipients' work.

The grants, given annually to honor emerging composers, lyricists and book writers, help to continue Tony Award-winning composer Jonathan Larson's (Rent; tick, tick… BOOM!) dream of infusing musical theatre with a contemporary, joyful, urban vitality.

The 2013 recipients were selected by a panel consisting of Tony-nominated lyricist Michael Korie (Grey Gardens), Tony-nominated composer Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer, Elf) and casting director Bernard Telsey (MCC Theater).

Salzman and Cunningham are Drama Desk and MAC Award-nominated writers. Their Off-Broadway musical I Love You Because has been produced all over the world and translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Finnish. Their new musical, Next Thing You Know, was produced at CAP21 in New York with the help of a grant from NAMT and has gone on to be produced across America and in Europe. The cast album is now available on Yellow Sound Label. They continue their collaboration with a musical about the '77 New York City blackout called The Legend of New York. Salzman and Cunningham are graduates of the NYU graduate musical theatre writing program and are both members of ASCAP and the Dramatist's Guild.

As Jonathan Larson Grant recipients, they receive an $8,000 grant, a performance of their work at the presentation event, and a week-long residency at the Running Deer Musical Theatre Lab in Washington State.

Sankaram has written music for theatre, film and concert. She has received residencies from the MacDowell Colony, the Watermill Center, and the Hermitage, and was the 2011 Con Edison/Exploring the Metropolis Composer-in-Residence at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy. Her work Sounding was directed by Kristin Marting at HERE Arts Center. As a resident artist at HERE Arts Center, Sankaram created Miranda, a steampunk murder mystery which was named winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical. Also a performer, Sankaram has collaborated with the Wooster Group, the Philip Glass Ensemble and Anthony Braxton, among others.

As a Jonathan Larson Grant recipient, she receives a $2,000 grant, and a performance of her work at the presentation event.

Dedicated to celebrating excellence and supporting theatre, the American Theatre Wing awards the Larson Grants to artists to "recognize and showcase their work with no strings attached - except to put it to the best use possible to help further the artist's creative endeavors."

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Past recipients of the Larson Grants include Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story), Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer), John Bucchino (A Catered Affair), Laurence O'Keefe (Bat Boy: The Musical), Michael Korie (Grey Gardens) and Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody).

The American Theatre Wing (William Ivey Long, chairman, board of trustees; Heather Hitchens, executive director) has been serving and supporting the theatre by "celebrating excellence, nurturing the public's appreciation of theatre, and providing unique educational and access opportunities for both practitioners and audiences for nearly 100 years."

For more information, visit AmericanTheatreWing.org.