The award, named in honor of the late, award-winning lyricist Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Visit), are presented to the writers by Tony winner Karen Ziemba.
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 check. In addition to the monetary award, the Fred Ebb Foundation will produce a one-night-only showcase of the winners' work.
The Fred Ebb Foundation is funded by royalties from Ebb’s 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), Jeff Blumenkrantz (2011), Sam Willmott (2012), Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond (2013), and Burnt Part Boys and Tuck Everlasting collaborators Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen (2014).
The selection panel comprises Foundation Trustee Mitchell Bernard; lyricist, writer and composer Sheldon Harnick; music director David Loud; actress Kelli O’Hara; playwright and producer Tim Pinckney; and theatre producer Arthur Whitelaw. Luftig is an award-winning lyricist, librettist, and playwright. She wrote lyrics for My Heart Is the Drum, which will have its world premiere at Village Theatre in 2016 (music by Phillip Palmer, book by Jennie Redling). Her lyrics were featured in That’s Life, a long-running Off-Broadway revue that was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award and toured nationwide (music by Carolyn Sloan). Her musical Understood Betsy (music, Mary Feinsinger, additional music, Robert Elhai) won the Jackie White Memorial National Children's Playwriting Award, the National Children's Theatre Festival Award, and was produced at the Actors' Playhouse. Her operetta Story of an Hour (music by Michael Valenti) premiered with the Portland Chamber Orchestra. Her play Jinxed, about Amelia Earhart and Jackie Cochran, was an O'Neill National Playwrights Conference Finalist, awarded first place and audience favorite at Dayton Playhouse FutureFest, and was presented as staged readings at the Abingdon Theater, Penguin Rep, and the Great Plains Theatre Conference. She has also written animated television episodes for "Pinky Dinky Doo," produced by the Sesame Workshop.
Phillip Palmer is a composer, arranger, and music director. My Heart Is the Drum (book by Jennie Redling, lyrics by Stacey Luftig) is his first full-length musical. He wrote the music for The Weatherman (book and lyrics by Alisa Klein Hauser, Clear Space Productions and Network One-Act Festival). Phillip’s original dance compositions Three Miniatures and Tango have been choreographed and performed at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the ImageMovementSound Festival in Rochester, NY. He graduated from the Eastman School of Music and has studied traditional drumming and choral music in Ghana and South Africa.