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2015 Richard Rodgers Awards




New York, February 4, 2015 – The winner of the 2015 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater was announced today by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which administers the Rodgers Awards.

String, By Adam Gwon and Sarah Hammond

The show was awarded a Studio Production.

String is a modern-day twist on the story of the three Greek Fates: Atropos, Lachesis, and Clotho.  Atropos, a workaholic goddess, gets tangled up with a security guard in the basement of the tallest building in the world. One mistake leads to another (a lost pair of scissors, a kiss, a stolen string) and soon, Atropos, the oldest Fate, breaks her own rules to offer immortality to an ordinary man.


Adam Gwon and Sarah Hammond

The intent of the Richard Rodgers Award is to nurture talented composers and playwrights by enabling their musicals to be produced in New York City.  Former award recipients include Maury Yeston, Nine; Jonathan Larson, Rent; Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal, Juan Darien; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Lucky Stiff; Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley, Violet; and Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, and Doug Wright, Grey Gardens.

This year’s jury included Tania León (chair), Lynn Ahrens, Sheldon Harnick, Richard Maltby, Jr., Jeanine Tesori, and John Weidman.

Richard Rodgers, elected to the Academy in 1955, endowed these awards in 1978.  The awards provide financial support for productions, studio productions, and staged readings of original musicals, by nonprofit theaters in New York City.  The Richard Rodgers Awards are the Academy’s only awards for which applications are accepted.  Application forms for the Richard Rodgers Awards may be downloaded from



ADAM GWON(music and lyrics) is a composer and lyricist whose musicals Ordinary Days, Cloudlands, and The Boy Detective Fails have been produced at Roundabout Theatre Company, South Coast Repertory, Signature Theatre, and internationally, including London’s West End.  His songs have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center, by such luminaries as Audra McDonald and Kelli O’Hara.  Gwon’s honors include the Kleban, Ebb, and Loewe Awards, Second Stage Theatre’s Donna Perret Rosen Award, Weston Playhouse’s New Musical Award, the ASCAP Harold Adamson Award, and the MAC John Wallowitch Award.  Adam has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and the Dramatists Guild, and is a 3-time alum of NAMT’s Festival of New Musicals.  Recordings include Ordinary Days (Ghostlight Records), Audra McDonald’s Go Back Home (Nonesuch), Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby


SARAH HAMMOND (book) is a Brooklyn-based playwright and librettist, originally from South Carolina. She’s an alum of New Dramatists, and a new member of Ars Nova’s Uncharted, where she will develop a musical with Will Aronson. Her musicals are Barefoot Persephone (with Cheeyoung Kim) and String (with Adam Gwon). String has been presented at the O’Neill Music Theatre Festival, NAMT ’14, and the inaugural Oscar Hammerstein Festival at the Bucks County Playhouse, and has won a New Dramatists’ Loewe Award and the Weston Play House New Musical Award. Her playwriting honors include the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Heidemann Award, a commission from South Coast Rep, a residency at the Royal National Theatre in London, New Dramatists’ Lippman Award, productions at Trustus and the Summer Play Festival at the Public, and readings at BAPF, Geva, and Williamstown.


The American Academy of Arts and Letters was established in 1898 to “foster, assist, and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts.”  Election to the Academy is considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in this country.  The Academy is currently comprised of 250 of America’s leading voices in the fields of Art, Architecture, Literature, and Music.  The Academy presents exhibitions of art, architecture, and manuscripts; and readings and performances of new musicals throughout the year, and is located in three landmark buildings designed by McKim, Mead & White, Cass Gilbert, and Charles Pratt Huntington on Audubon Terrace at 155 Street and Broadway, New York City.

© 2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters