Cooper (lyricist/bookwriter) and Redler (composer) will receive $12,500 and the Running Deer Residency; with actress/writer Taub to also receive $12,500. The April 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.
In addition to selecting this year's grant recipients, the expert panel, consisting of Nell Benjamin, Maria Goyanes and Peter Schneider, will direct $5,000 towards a new enhancement of the Larson Grant program: a mentorship component to further the recipients’ artistic development in the year in which they receive the grant.
Sara Cooper is a bookwriter, lyricist, and playwright. With composer Zach Redler, she wrote The Memory Show, which was produced Off-Broadway by Transport Group and won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2013, and Loving Leo, which had its first workshop production this past summer at Weston Playhouse after winning the Weston Playhouse New Musical Award in 2012. The Memory Show was developed at the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at New York University and also ran in Seoul, South Korea, was in the NAMT Festival of New Musicals, and had its world premiere at Barrington Stage Company as a part of William Finn’s Musical Theatre Lab. Cooper and and Redler have also written several opera pieces and are currently writing their third full-length musical together, Putting Off Goodbye. Cooper's other musicals have appeared in the NYMF Next Link Project, in the New York International Fringe Festival, and at Theater for the New City. Her play Things I Left On Long Island has had several readings Off-Off-Broadway in the past year after winning a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts. As an educator, Sara has taught for organizations including New York University, City College, Theater for the New City, and Lincoln Center.
Redler is a composer, pianist, vocal coach, music copyist, musicologist, a member of ASCAP and Local 802 and a graduate of Tisch's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, at which he met bookwriter/lyricist Cooper. Redler's research and study of Auschwitz victim Marcel Tyberg's life and music has culminated in eight world premieres and two distinguished grants. He is currently preparing and editing Tyberg’s entire body of works for Boosey & Hawkes. In addition to vocal coaching at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education, Redler is adjunct faculty teaching courses at both the Tisch School of the Arts and Steinhardt. His first musical, Perez Hilton Saves the Universe written with Tim Drucker and Randy Blair, won Best Musical Fringe Festival 2008 and Best Musical in the Talkin' Broadway 2008 Summer Theatre Festival Citations. Redler and Cooper's first musical together, The Memory Show, began as their thesis project at Tisch in 2009. After the world premiere production at Barrington Stage (2010) and a nine-month run in Seoul (2012), last spring Transport Group produced it at the Duke Theater in New York for which they won an NEA Grant. Readings with the Adirondack Theater Festival (2010), Sharon Playhouse (2011) and Contemporary Traditionalists (2011) helped shape Redler and Cooper's Loving Leo. In 2012, Loving Leo won the Weston Playhouse Award and The Weston Playhouse produced its first workshop production this past summer. Their operatic works include a set of six monodramas ( Windows) and four chamber operas ( Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Male Identity) that were created in part at the Virginia Arts Festival (2011), NYU (2012) and through a two year Van Lier residency with American Opera Projects (2011-13). Redler has also written many sets of art songs with texts by 19th century American poets. This spring, Opera Memphis will premiere his and librettist Jerre Dye’s monodrama Movin' Up in the World (part of Ghosts of Crosstown) and an excerpt from Redler and librettist Mark Campbell’s new opera about Susan Smith will be performed at the Virginia Arts Festival. Currently, in addition to writing their third musical, Putting Off Goodbye, Redler and Cooper are crowd sourcing for The Memory Show cast album that Grammy-nominated Michael Croiter of Yellow Sound Label will produce this summer. Raised in the green mountains of Vermont, Taub is a songwriter and performer. Her band, the Shaina Taub Trio, plays regularly in New York. Taub was Ars Nova’s 2012 Composer-in-Residence, and her debut album, "What Otters Do," was featured on NPR/WNYC’s Best of 2011 list. She’s currently writing the scores for two new musicals: There’s A House, with playwright Kim Rosenstock, commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Robin, with playwright Jen Silverman, commissioned by Ars Nova. She recently signed a publishing deal with Razor & Tie and Ghostlight/Sh-K-Boom records, as the first artist in their new joint venture to represent songwriters that fuse theatrical and pop music. Her original soul-folk opera, T he Daughters, has been developed by the Yale Institute of Music Theatre and was a finalist for the Richard Rodgers Award. She recently played Princess Mary in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, and is currently performing in the American Repertory Theater's upcoming new production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Yaddo Colony and the Sundance Institute, and is an alum of NYU’S Tisch School of the Arts.
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."
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.