The musicals honored this year include Grey Gardens (by Scott Frankel, Michael Korie and Doug Wright), The Yellow Wood (by Michelle Elliott and Danny Larsen) and True Fans (by Chris Miller, Bill Rosenfield and Nathan Tysen). Gardens is currently in previews at Playwright Horizons and will officially open March 7. The two other musicals will soon be performed by nonprofit theatres in Manhattan. Winners were chosen by a seven-member jury, under the chairmanship of Stephen Sondheim. The jury comprised Lynn Ahrens, John Guare, Sheldon Harnick, Jeanine Tesori and John Weidman. Among the 56 previous award winners are Maury Yeston the late Jonathan Larson.
Grey Gardens, inspired by the 1975 documentary of the same name, "explores the lives of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie, reclusive mother and daughter living in a dilapidated 28-room mansion in East Hampton. It explores in song the idiosyncrasies and failed dreams of two lonely, eccentric women." The Yellow Wood, about a 17-year-old skateboarder who has attention deficit disorder, "tells the story of Adam's efforts to lead a life without his Ritalin medication, as he searches for his identity, while maneuvering his way through the maze of adolescence." Inspired by the 1999 documentary of the same title, True Fans "follows the adventures of three basketball fanatics, friends who bike from California to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, on $10 a day."
The Richard Rodgers Awards were endowed by the famed composer and are administered by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The awards, according to press notes, "provide financial support for productions, studio productions, or staged readings by nonprofit theatres in New York City."