The 2017 Jonathan Larson Grants for emerging musical theatre writers will go to Ben Bonnema (book, music, and lyrics), Maggie-Kate Coleman and Erato A. Kremmyda (music and lyrics), Ty Defoe & Tidtaya Sinutoke (book, music, and lyrics), and Michael R. Jackson (book, music, and lyrics).
The four grants of $10,000 each will be presented to the teams or individuals in a ceremony March 6 in a private event at the WNYC Greene Space. The event will feature special performances of the recipients’ work.
Given in the name of Rent composer-lyricist-book writer Jonathan Larson, the grants are bestowed annually to honor emerging composers, lyricists and book writers in order to help to continue Tony Award-winning composer’s dream of infusing musical theatre with “a contemporary, joyful, urban vitality.”
Bonnema wrote book, music, and lyrics to Adult Swim’s Peter Panic, a musical video game that's been downloaded by more than half a million people. He contributed additional composition to Punchdrunk's award-winning show Sleep No More.
Coleman’s POP! received three Connecticut Critics Circle Awards, seven Helen Hayes Award nominations, and was a Pittsburgh Tribune Top Ten choice of 2012.
Kremmyda’s Marie in Tomorrowland (with Maggie-Kate Coleman and Sam Pinkleton) was developed at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Catwalk Institute, The Orchard Project, and elsewhere. Other shows: Riot Antigone by Seonjae Kim (La Mama), Wagon Wheel with Robin Sandusky (Planet Connections). Recent with Maggie-Kate Coleman: Worth of Women (Carnegie Hall/Kairos Italy Theater).
Defoe's credits include Clouds are Pillows for the Moon (Yale Institute for Music Theatre, ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, Kilroy’s Honorable Mention List), Hart Island Requiem (Civilians R&D), and Red Pine (Native Voices at the Autry; Institute for American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
Sinutoke’s credits feature Clouds are Pillows for the Moon (Yale Institute for Music Theatre, ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, Kilroy’s Honorable Mention List), Hart Island Requiem (Civilians R&D, EtM Con Edison Composer-in-Residence), Gender Nation, and Crossing Borders (CAP21 Residency).
Jackson holds a BFA and MFA in playwriting and Musical Theatre Writing from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. His work has been performed at NAMT, The 24 Hour Musicals, The Barrington Stage Company, Merkin Hall, The Laurie Beechman Theater, Feinstein’s/54 Below, The Triad, Ars Nova, Joe’s Pub, The Metropolitan Room, The Bruno Walter Library, and ACT in Seattle. He wrote book, music, and lyrics for the musical A Strange Loop.
Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, which administers the awards, said, “The opportunity to provide significant support to promising young musical theater creators is one that we at The Wing hold very dear. These courageous and bold new voices are the future of our industry, and their work will continue to enrich the lives of theater lovers for years to come.”
This year's winners were chosen by panel consisting of director Jason Eagan (Artistic Director of Ars Nova), producer Jill Furman (Hamilton), musical director-arranger-orchestrator Jason Michael Webb (The Color Purple), and lyricist David Zippel (City of Angels).
Past recipients of the Larson Grants include Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land), Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal, Freaky Friday), Chad Beguelin & 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)