The new musicals KPOP and Gun & Powder have been named the winners of the 2018 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
KPOP, the new immersive musical from Ars Nova, Ma-Yi Theater, and the Woodshed Collective, played an acclaimed, sold-out engagement Off-Broadway last fall. The high-energy production, which wove dance, music, a concert, and intimate storytelling, took theatregoers on a backstage tour of a K-pop music factory.
KPOP is conceived by Woodshed Collective and Jason Kim (The Model American, HBO’s Girls) and features a book by Kim, music and lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon (The View UpStairs), an immersive design by Woodshed Collective, choreography by Jennifer Weber (The Hip Hop Nutcracker), and direction by Teddy Bergman (Empire Travel Agency). Kim, Park, Vernon, and the Woodshed Collective are the recipients of the Richard Rodgers Award.
Bookwriter and lyricist Angelica Chéri and composer Ross Baum are also recipients of the 2018 Richard Rodgers Award for their musical Gun & Powder, inspired by the true story of Chéri’s family.
The musical follows the story of Mary and Martha Clarke, African-American twins who passed for white and were notorious outlaws. Set in post-emancipation Texas, Gun & Powder details the journey of defying racial boundaries and seizing what rightfully belongs to them.
Gun & Powder was presented as part of the 2017 Sigworks Lab at the Signature Theatre, directed by Joe Calarco. The musical has been developed in residencies at Goodspeed Opera, Two River Theater, and the Barnett Residency. It was originally developed in the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program Thesis Musical Series, and then given the Inaugural Workshop Production of the NYU Tisch Center for New Musicals, directed by Jerry Dixon.
Former Richard Rodgers Award recipients include Maury Yeston for Nine; Jonathan Larson for Rent; Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal for Juan Darien; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty for Lucky Stiff; Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley for Violet; Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, and Doug Wright for Grey Gardens; and Dave Malloy for Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.
The members of this year’s jury were David Lang (chairman), Mindi Dickstein, Sheldon Harnick, Richard Maltby, Jr., and John Weidman. For more information visit Artsandletters.org.