New York, February 23, 2016 – The winners of the 2016 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater were announced today by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which administers the Rodgers Awards.
Costs of Living by Timothy Huang
We Live in Cairo by Patrick and Daniel Lazour
Hadestown by Anaïs Mitchell
Costs of Living and We Live in Cairo were awarded Staged Readings and Hadestown, a Production Award.
Costs of Living is the story of two immigrant cab drivers Eng and Chin who share opposite shifts off the same taxi medallion. Eng climbs the ladder of success by day, while his partner Chin, falls short by night. Their fates are intertwined as forced competition pushes a wedge between them, culminating in a single desperate act which leaves one dead and the other brutalized.
Hadestown, in a contemporary twist on an ancient myth, inspired by classic American folk music and vintage New Orleans jazz, tells the story of Orpheus’s mythical quest to conquer Hades to regain the favor of his one true love, Eurydice. Hadestown’s story pits nature against industry, faith against doubt, and love against death.
We Live in Cairo tells the story of six student revolutionaries coming of age in today’s Middle East, who confront the past in their search for freedom. Young men and women, armed with laptops and cameras, guitars and spray paint cans, inspire millions to take to the streets to overthrow their President, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.
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 David Lang, chairman, 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 www.artsandletters.org.
TIMOTHY HUANG’s works have been produced at Prospect Theater Company, NYTB, and Baayork Lee’s National Asian Artists Project (Andy Pickets, 2 to Wakefield, Crossing Over respectively) He wrote the one-person musical The View From Here and was a 2008 MacDowell fellow. His song Everything I Do, You Do (with co-lyricist Sara Wordsworth) was recorded by Sutton Foster for the charity album Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project. Costs of Living was the recipient of the 2015 New American Musical Award for B-Side Productions, a selection of the 2015 NAMT Festival of New Musicals, the 2011 ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop, and the BMI 2012 Master Class hosted by Stephen Sondheim. His newest piece, Peter and the Wall, was selected for the 2013 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and for a residency at the Blue Mountain Center. His other works include And the Earth Moved, Death and Lucky, the song cycle LINES and A Relative Relationship (Winner, Best Musical, 2013 SoundBites Festival). Timothy is the recipient of a 2013 Jerry Harrington Award, the 2015 New American Musical Award (B-Side Productions) and a 2012-2013 Dramatist Guild Fellowship.
PATRICK and DANIEL LAZOUR have been writing musical theater together for the past seven years. Their work has been performed at the Miller Theater, the Robsham Theater Arts Center and Calliope Theater. They have written and produced five musicals together including The Grand Room, which was developed and performed at the Robsham Theater Arts Center at Boston College. We Live in Cairo was selected as one of three musicals to be developed at the 2015 O’Neill National Music Theater Conference. Patrick graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in Theater and Political Science. Daniel graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in music composition. They are 2015-2016 Dramatists Guild Fellows.
ANAÏS MITCHELL is a Vermont and Brooklyn-based songwriter who works in the world of narrative folksong, poetry and balladry. She recorded for Ani Difranco’s Righteous Babe Records before founding her own Wilderland label in 2012. Recent albums include Hadestown, Young Man in America and Child Ballads (a BBC award-winning collection of traditional English and Scottish folksongs). Collectively, these records have appeared on ‘Year End Best Of’ lists including NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, MOJO and The New York Times. Mitchell headlines concerts worldwide as well as on supporting tours for artists like Bon Iver and Ani Difranco (who both appear as guest singers on the Hadestown album), Richard Thompson, Patty Griffin and the Punch Brothers. Hadestown is her first foray into the theater.
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.