The Kleban Foundation announces the recipients of the 33rd annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre. The 2023 Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre lyricist has been awarded to Ryan Scott Oliver. The 2023 Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist has been awarded to Ethan Lipton. The Kleban Foundation will present the prizes on Monday, February 6 at 5PM in a private ceremony (by invitation only) hosted by ASCAP and BMI at BMI’s New York City headquarters (7 World Trade Center). Hosted by Tony Award winners and Kleban board members Richard Maltby, Jr. and Maury Yeston, the event will feature musical performances and special appearances by Tony Award nominee Alex Brightman, Tony Award winner Lindsay Mendez, and more.
The public can stream the presentation of the 33rd annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre on the Broadway On Demand SmartTV channel beginning, Friday February 10th at 8PM EST. The event is viewable on the free ad supported tv channel through February 16.
Since its inception, Kleban Prize winners have been selected by judging panels comprised of the theatre’s most respected artists and administrators. The trio of celebrated judges making the final determination this year were Obie Award-winning director Leah C. Gardiner (Bulrusher, Blue Door), playwright Julia Jordan (Murder Ballad, Walk Two Moons), and award-winning actor Orville Mendoza (Pacific Overtures on Broadway, Road Show at The Public).
The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, best known as the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning lyricist of the musical A Chorus Line. Kleban’s will made provisions for annual prizes, which in recent years have totaled $100,000 each, payable over two years, to be given to the most promising lyricist and librettist in American musical theatre. For over 30 years, the Kleban Prize, which has recognized and honored some of the American musical theatre’s brightest developing talents, is unique in that it is bestowed not just for an artist’s previous achievements, but for the promise of creativity to come.
Over more than three decades, the annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre has awarded over $6,000,000 to 81 artists who collectively have garnered four Tony Awards (with nearly 30 Tony nominations), 59 Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, 10 Drama Desk Awards, nine Outer Critic Circle Awards, four Obie Awards, two Olivier Awards, and two Pulitzer Prizes. The list of previous Kleban Prize winners includes Lisa Kron (Fun Home), Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak (A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder), David Lindsay-Abaire (Kimberly Akimbo, Shrek), Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years), John Bucchino (A Catered Affair, It’s Only Life), Gretchen Cryer (I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road, The Last Sweet Days of Isaac), Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, Happiness), Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), Michael John LaChiusa (Giant, See What I Wanna See, The Wild Party), Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid) and John Weidman (Pacific Overtures, Road Show, Assassins). For a complete listing of Kleban Prize winners, see the list at the end of this document.
“For over three decades, the Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre has been one of the theatre's most distinctive honors, and after the last few challenging years, Ed Kleban’s legacy may be more important than ever in its supporting and fostering of the creators of tomorrow’s American Musical theatre,” says Tony Award winner Richard Maltby Jr, President of the Kleban Foundation. "Ed Kleban recognized that theatrical wordsmiths had the hardest time supporting themselves while honing their craft, and so the Kleban awards are specifically for librettists and lyricists. It is notable that The Kleban Prize is not given to a specific work already completed (as other theatre awards are), but instead, recognizing the excellence of past work, it is given to the writers in anticipation of work yet to be done. With a uniquely generous endowment, the Kleban Prize identifies, celebrates, and supports the most promising writing talent in the theatre, just when emerging writers and established writers need help the most. In these challenging times, The Kleban Foundation is proud to carry on Ed Kleban's enlightened legacy, and to continue fostering the work of new writers, as well as supporting writers who have already begun to establish themselves. Kleban Prize winners are the artists who are going to define the art form for years to come. We celebrate them, their fresh perspectives and creative energy that is so very important to the theater."
Broadway on Demand has streamed over 3,000 events and live productions—from Broadway shows to concert series, performance venues to individual artists, and original content—in 114 countries to 300,000+ subscribers and was honored with an Emmy award® nomination in 2021. Thanks to a unique licensing interface, Showshare, approved middle school, high school, college, community, and professional theatre productions utilize the platform to stream to their audiences.
ABOUT THE 2023 KLEBAN PRIZE WINNERS
2023 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre lyricist RYAN SCOTT OLIVER, was called “the future of Broadway… a major new voice in musical theatre” (Entertainment Weekly) and is “shaking up musical theater with his dark, twisted and genius work … [Oliver] could very well be musical theater’s answer to an auteur filmmaker or a gothic novelist” (Huffington Post). He wrote the score for 35mm: A Musical Exhibition (based on photographs by Matthew Murphy); Jasper in Deadland (co-book with Tony Award-nominee Hunter Foster); as well as Darling; Havana! (with director Warren Carlyle); Otherbody, a brief musical allegory; Mrs. Sharp (read at Playwrights Horizons July 2009 starring Jane Krakowski, dir. by Michael Greif); We Foxes (commissioned by Broadway Across America); Tethered with Adam Chanler-Berat (commissioned by Grove Entertainment); and a contemporary “marriage play,” Three Points of Contact. Both Jasper in Deadland and 35mm: A Musical Exhibition are licensed worldwide by Concord Theatricals, and have cast recordings on the Ghostlight/Sh-k-boom label. He is currently at work on Party of the Century, a musical based on Truman Capote‘s Black and White Ball (for Fourth Wall Theatrical, book by Kirsten Guenther), plus an original musical commission, Tomorrow, The Island Dies, and several adaptations of psychological horror queen Shirley Jackson‘s work (including the EPs Future Demons and Past Demons) and more. Oliver is also the recipient of the Jonathan Larson Grant, Richard Rodgers Award, commissions by Disney Theatricals and Universal Theatricals, a Lortel Award nomination, plus numerous ASCAP awards, a Dramatists Guild Fellowship, a guest lectureship at Harvard University, as well as residencies at Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat, 5th Avenue Theatre, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Weston Playhouse, Cap 21, the York Theatre, The Johnny Mercer Colony at Goodspeed Opera House, Running Deer Ranch, Pace University, Harvard University, San Diego State University, Weber University, Michigan State University, Playwrights Horizons and more. M.F.A. Musical Theatre Writing NYU; B.A. Music Composition, UCLA. Songbooks and sheet music available at ryanscottoliver.com. He is represented by Di Glazer at CAA. His morbidly optimistic musings may be followed on all platforms @ryanscottoliver.
2023 Kleban Prize winner, most promising musical theatre librettist ETHAN LIPTON’s produced plays include Tumacho, Red-Handed Otter, Luther, Goodbye April Hello May, 100 Aspects of the Moon and Meat. He wrote the book and songs for No Place to Go (Obie Award) and The Outer Space (Lortel nomination), both premiered by the Public Theater in Joe’s Pub and directed by Leigh Silverman. Ethan has been a Guggenheim Fellow, an Alpert Prize Fellow at MacDowell, a member of the Public’s Emerging Writers Group, a Space on Ryder Farm Fellow, a Clubbed Thumb associate artist and a Playwrights Realm’s Page One Fellow. He has received commissions from NYFA, Clubbed Thumb, Playwrights Horizons, the Sloan Foundation, True Love Productions, the Public, Barrington Stage Co., the Civilians, Media Art Exploration, the New York Public Library and the Onassis Foundation. His plays are published by Concorde Theatricals. With his band, Ethan Lipton & his Orchestra, he has played venues throughout New York and beyond, including Celebrate Brooklyn, MASS MoCA, the Gate in London, the Pavilion in Dublin, the Troubador, All Tomorrow's Parties and Pitchfork Paris.
The application window for the 2024 Kleban Prize will open on March 15, 2023 and close at 5:00PM EDT on May 15, 2023.
Guidelines for applying are available to view on New Dramatists’ website at www.NewDramatists.org/Kleban-Prize-Musical-Theatre.
THE KLEBAN FOUNDATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
André Bishop Elliot H. Brown Kirsten Childs
Richard Maltby, Jr. Richard Terrano John Weidman Maury Yeston