Established in 1988 under the will of Tony and Pulitzer winning A Chorus Line lyricist Edward L. Kleban, the prize honors the most promising lyricist and librettist working in the American musical theatre. In recent years, the annual prize has totaled $100,000 each, paid over a period of two years to the recipient. Previous winners have included 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), Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), Michael John LaChiusa (Giant, See What I Wanna See, The Wild Party), and John Weidman (Pacific Overtures, Road Show, Assassins).
"The Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre is one of the theatre's most distinctive honors,” said Tony winner Richard Maltby Jr., who serves as the President of the Kleban Foundation. “After the last few challenging years, Ed Kleban's legacy may be more important than ever in supporting the creators of tomorrow's American musicals. Ed Kleban recognized that theatrical wordsmiths have 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, as other awards are, but instead, it is given for work yet to be written. With a uniquely generous endowment, the Kleban Prize identifies, celebrates and supports promising writing talent in the theatre, just when emerging writers -- and established writers -- need help the most. Kleban Prize winners are going to define the art form for years to come. The Kleban Foundation is proud to carry on Ed Kleban's enlightened legacy.”
This year's winners were selected by a three-person committee consisting of Tony winning playwright, composer, and lyricist Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop), Theater Latte Da Associate Artistic Director Elissa Adams, and award-winning actor and playwright Chistine Toy Johnson (The Music Man, Pacific Overtures, Falsettoland).
The Kleban Foundation will present the awards at a private ceremony February 5, hosted by Maltby Jr. and Maury Yeston.