The musicals honored this year include Bringers (by David Hudson and Paul Libman), Broadcast (by Nathan Christensen and Scott Murphy) and Red (by Brian Lowdermilk and Marcus Stevens). All three musicals will be given staged readings in Manhattan in 2005. Winners were chosen by a seven-member jury, under the chairmanship of Stephen Sondheim. The jury comprised Lynn Ahrens, Jack Beeson, Sheldon Harnick, Richard Maltby, Jeanine Tesori and John Weidman. Among the 56 previous award winners are Maury Yeston the late Jonathan Larson.
Bringers, which was inspired by Carl Sandburg's Cornhuskers, "explores in song the repeating cycle of life in the Midwest, drawing on American music from folk to jazz, with invited guests reading the poems and the cast performing the songs." The history of radio is explored in Broadcast, and each scene of the musical "depicts new characters as their lives are affected by, and, in turn, influence the development of the technology." The events leading to the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg — as seen through the eyes of Lenny Bruce — are featured in Red, which tells the love story of "two people with passionate beliefs who never betrayed each other even to save their own lives."
The Richard Rodgers Awards were endowed by the famed composer and are administered by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.