The American Theatre Wing announced that the 2016 Jonathan Larson® Grants recipients are César Alvarez (book, music and lyrics), Nikko Benson (music and lyrics),Carson Kreitzer (book and lyrics), and Sam Salmond (book, music, and lyrics). Four prestigious grants of $10,000 each, totaling $40,000, will be presented on Monday, March 21, 2016 at a private event at the WNYC Greene Space. The event will feature special performances of the recipients’ work.
This year’s recipients were selected by an expert panel consisting of composer/lyricist and past Larson Grant recipient Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812), producer Kristin Caskey (President of Fox Theatricals and producer of Fun Home), and director Kristin Marting (Artistic Director of HERE Arts Center).
“The Jonathan Larson Grants give us the opportunity each year to support exciting new theater makers and invest in the changing landscape of the American musical, one writer at a time.” said Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing.
The Jonathan Larson Grants, given annually to honor emerging composers, lyricists and book writers, help to continue Tony Award®-winning composer Jonathan Larson’s dream of infusing musical theatre with a contemporary, joyful, urban vitality. Dedicated to celebrating excellence and supporting theatre, the American Theatre Wing awards the Larson Grants to artists to recognize and showcase their work with no strings attached - except to put it to the best use possible to help further the artists' creative endeavors.
The American Theatre Wing is dedicated to also offering Jonathan Larson Grant artists industry resources to advance their work.
César Alvarez, Nikko Benson, and Sam Salmond are also receiving The Saw Island Foundation Recording Grants. The recording grants are a new addition to the Jonathan Larson Grants for 2016. The Saw Island Foundation seeks to empower innovative and high-impact institutions to improve existing programs; it has created this enhancement to provide artists with additional support to help arrange for the production of new demo recordings to more fully represent the musical theater writer’s vision.
Carson Kreitzer is receiving a residency at Running Deer Musical Theatre Lab’s Writer’s Retreat, which consists of a weeklong residency for her and her collaborators at this incubation center for new musicals.
Finally, Adelphi University Performing Arts Center is awarding both César Alvarez and Sam Salmond with an evening of performance featuring their work as part of their Larson Legacy Concert Series, which celebrates the next generation of creative artists at the college home of Jonathan Larson, class of ’82, to carry on his legacy.
Past recipients of the Larson Grants include Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (A Christmas Story), Dave Malloy(Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), Chad Beguelin &Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer), John Bucchino (A Catered Affair), Laurence O’Keefe (Bat Boy: The Musical), Michael Korie (Grey Gardens), Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody), Sara Cooper & Zach Redler(The Memory Show), and Shaina Taub (The Daughters).
César Alvarez is a composer, lyricist, performer and writer. César's band, The Lisps, has released 4 albums and played hundreds of shows around the country since 2005. Recent composition credits: FUTURITY directed by Sarah Benson (Soho Rep/Ars Nova, A.R.T, Walker Art Center, Mass MoCA); Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' An Octoroon (Soho Rep, TFANA. Drama Desk Nomination); Washeteria (Soho Rep); The Foundry Theater's Good Person of Szechwan (LaMaMa, Public Theater. Drama Desk Nomination); Mac Wellman's 3 2's; or AFAR (Dixon Place), Full Still Hungry for Contra-Tiempo (Ford Amphitheater, Dance Motion USA). In development: The Universe is a Small Hat, a multi-player participatory musical (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor, Civilians R&D Group, PRELUDE NYC, Babycastles, Sarah Lawrence College), The Elementary Spacetime Show (Ars Nova Uncharted, EST/Sloan Commission, Polyphone Festival) and Castro with Lucas Hnath (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor and Space at Ryder Farm). César is an Artist-in-Residence at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and the Artistic Director of Polyphone, a festival of the emerging musical at UArts. He is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and received his MFA at Bard College. www.musicisfreenow.org
Nikko Benson is a musical theater writer and performer. Creator of numerous original musicals and cabarets, he is currently developing Nikola Tesla Drops The Beat (with Benjamin Halstead), an electronic musical that received development residencies with the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project and Johnny Mercer Writers Colony, as well as presentations at Musical Theatre Factory and Joe’s Pub. Based in New York, he and his songs have been featured at cabaret venues around the city, among them Brian Stokes Mitchell’s Plays With Music and William Finn’s Ridiculously Talented series, and his own concert evenings Start Again and In Pursuit of Magic. A founding member of the Musical Theater Factory, Nikko is also a teaching artist at The Performing Arts Project, and a member of ASCAP and the Dramatists’ Guild.
Carson Kreitzer is a 2015/16 McKnight Fellow in Playwriting at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, her third time receiving the honor. Current projects include Capital Crime!, a commission for the Guthrie Theatre, andLempicka, a new musical with composer Matt Gould. Her plays include The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer(Rosenthal New Play Prize, American Theatre Critics' Steinberg New Play Citation, and Barrie Stavis Award; published in Smith and Kraus' New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2004), SELF DEFENSE or death of some salesmen, Flesh and the Desert, The Slow Drag (New York and London), Slither, Behind the Eye, and Lasso of Truth (NNPN Rolling World Premiere). Ms. Kreitzer is a member of the Workhaus Collective, an alumna of New Dramatists, and was the first Playwrights Of New York (PoNY) Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center. Her collection SELF DEFENSE and other plays is available from No Passport Press.
Sam Salmond is a Brooklyn-based composer, lyricist, and bookwriter. He’s currently writing music and lyrics for an adaptation of Eighty-Sixed, the novel by humorist and AIDS activist, David Feinberg. The show recently had a developmental reading at Second Stage Theatre. He’s the creator of Uncool: the Party, an immersive night of rock 'n roll, games, stories, and dancing, which was workshopped at CAP21 and the Musical Theatre Factory. His musical Mother, Me and the Monsters was produced at Barrington Stage. He wrote book and lyrics for Cage Match, produced at Prospect Theater, and contributed songs to Shakina Nayfack’s One Woman Show and Post-Op, produced at Palo Alto Theatreworks and The Wild Project. Sam’s work has been featured at Lincoln Center, Ars Nova, Symphony Space, Joe's Pub, 54 Below, Two Rivers Theater and all around the country. He’s an alumnus of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.
The American Theatre Wing (Heather Hitchens, President) is dedicated to advancing artistic excellence and nurturing theatre’s next generation: on the stage, behind the scenes, and in the audience. For nearly a century, the Wing has pursued this mission with programs that span the nation to invest in the growth and evolution of American Theatre. Traditionally, the Wing has encouraged members of the theatre community to share their off-stage time and talent directly with the theatre audience at large--whether it was singing for the troops in the Stage Door Canteen of the 1940's, or sharing their stories on a podcast today. As the founders of The Tony Awards®, the American Theatre Wing has developed the foremost national platform for the recognition of theatrical achievement on Broadway. Yet the Wing's reach extends beyond Broadway and beyond New York. The Wing develops the next generation of theatre professionals through the SpringboardNYC and Theatre Intern Network programs, incubates innovative theatre across the country through the National Theatre Company Grants, fosters the song of American theatre through the Jonathan Larson Grants, honors the best in New York theatrical design with the Henry Hewes Design Award, and illuminates the creative process through the “Working in the Theatre” program and media archive. Beginning last season, the American Theatre Wing has entered into a long-term partnership with The Village Voice to co-present The Obie Awards, Off Broadway’s Highest Honor. The 61stAnnual Obie Awards will be held in May 2016. Visitors to americantheatrewing.org can get inspired and gain insight into the artistic process through the Wing’s extensive media collection, and learn more about its programming for students, aspiring and working professionals, and audiences.