Darling Named Weston Playhouse New Musical Award Winner; Derek Klena and Emily Walton Among Concert Performers

By Michael Gioia
February 26, 2013

Darling, a coming-of-age musical written by Ryan Scott Oliver and Brett Ryback, was named the winner of the seventh annual Weston Playhouse New Musical Award. The work will receive Vermont and New York City concerts as well as a demo.



The Weston Playhouse New Musical Award "supports new work by writers and composers of notable promise, chosen from a group of national nominations." Winners rehearse their work in Vermont under professional musical direction with a cast of professional performers.

The Vermont and New York concerts will be under the musical direction of Chris Fenwick (Giant) and feature Derek Klena (Dogfight) as Peter, Emily Walton (Peter and the Starcatcher) as Ursula, Julia Mattison (Godspell), Justin Keyes (How to Succeed...) and Max Chernin (NYMF's Really Bad Things).

After performing selections from Darling in concert on the Weston stage March 2, Oliver, Ryback and the cast will return to New York to perform at an invited concert and record a demo recording under the supervision of Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom Records.

"We were captivated by Darling: its undeniable energy, its soaring and sophisticated score, its compelling tale of lost souls searching for connection," said Weston producing director Steve Stettler in a statement. "We can't wait to hear it in the voices of the exciting cast we've assembled."

Darling is described as "a coming-of-age story about a teenager, Ursula Morgan, who leaves behind her upper-class family and finds herself in the seedy underground of Depression-era Boston — a world of sex, jazz and a mysterious drug called…fairy dust."

The piece, which was featured on the "Bound for Broadway" episode of NBC's "The Apprentice," was nominated for Weston's national award by Robert Meffe, director of music at Pace New Musicals.

Oliver (music and lyrics) is a Lucille Lortel Award nominee, a Jonathan Larson Grant recipient and a Richard Rodgers Award winner. Ryback (book) is the winner of the Tennessee Williams One-Act Competition and the Henrico County Theatre One-Act Competition. For more on Oliver and his work, read Playbill.com's Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know.

For more information about the award, visit WestonPlayhouse.org.