César Alvarez and Isabella Dawis are recipients of the 32nd annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre, the former for most promising musical theatre lyricist and the latter for most promising musical theatre librettist. The award carries with it a $100,000 cash prize, payable over two years, to support the emerging artists.
Alvarez and Dawis will be honored at a virtual ceremony, streaming via Broadway On Demand February 21–28. The event will be hosted by Tony Award winners and Kleban board members Richard Maltby, Jr. and Maury Yeston, and will feature performances from the two winners.
Alvarez, who uses they/them pronouns, is a lyricist, playwright, and composer. Their works include the Lortel Award-winner FUTURITY, The Public commission NOISE, The Universe is a Small Hat, The Elementary Spacetime Show, and The Potluck. Alvarez has been named a 2018-20 Princeton Arts Fellow, 2020-22 Hermitage Fellow, a recipient of The Jonathan Larson Award, and is currently under commission at Playwright's Horizons and Denver Theater Center. They are also an assistant professor of music at Dartmouth College.
Dawis is a Filipina-American playwright and performer. She is the winner of the 2021 Fred Ebb Award with composer Tidtaya Sinutoke, and currently holds a 2021-23 Composers and the Voice Fellowship with the American Opera Project. Her musical works include Half the Sky and Sunwatcher, both written with Sinutoke.
This year's winners were selected by a panel consisting of 2018 Kleban Prize-winning lyricist Sarah Hammond (Pete the Cat); Obie Award-winning lyricist and music director Or Matias (Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812); and actor Manu Narayan (Company, My Fair Lady).
The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, whose works include the Tony-winning lyrics for A Chorus Line and the Tony-nominated score for A Class Act, the latter assembled posthumously as his biomusical. Previous Kleban Prize winners include Lisa Kron, Jason Robert Brown, Gretchen Cryer, Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, Michael Korie, and John Weidman.