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Two Musicals Win Richard Rodgers Awards

Contact: Ashley Fedor

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NEW YORK, March 28, 2022—The winners of the 2022 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater were announced today by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Both musicals received Staged Reading Awards.

Driving in Circles

by Jay Eddy

Perpetual Sunshine & the Ghost Girls

by Sara Cooper and Lynne Shankel

Driving in Circles takes an intimate, autobiographical look at the aftershocks of childhood sexual abuse: the little earthquakes disrupting a survivor’s personal relationships, physical and mental health, and fragmented sense of self. Set to a sometimes-whispering, sometimes-screaming folktronica score, the story unfolds like a road movie, mapping the storyteller’s sometimes-funny, sometimes-painful journey through the bodymind-altering landscapes of trauma towards something like happiness.

Perpetual Sunshine & the Ghost Girls is an all-woman+ throughcomposed musical theatre piece about the capitalist exploitation of workers’ bodies and rights in the face of a national public health crisis. Featuring an original 1920s-2020s mashup score, the show is based on the true story of the women who worked in the factories and were knowingly poisoned by the United States Radium Corporation, and who fought back, changing United States labor laws forever.

Richard Rodgers, who was elected to the Academy in 1955, endowed these awards in 1978 to nurture talented composers and playwrights by enabling their musicals to be produced by nonprofit theaters in New York City. Former recipients include Jonathan Larson, for Rent; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty for Lucky Stiff; Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley for Violet; Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, and Doug Wright for Grey Gardens; Dave Malloy for Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1898; and Anaïs Mitchell for Hadestown. Application forms for the awards may be found at The members of this year’s jury were David Lang (chair), Lynn Ahrens, Kristoffer Diaz, Mindi Dickstein, Amanda Green, Michael R. Jackson, Richard Maltby, Jr., and John Weidman.


The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. Early members include William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, Julia Ward Howe, Henry James, Edward MacDowell, Theodore Roosevelt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Singer Sargent, and Edith Wharton. The Academy’s 300 members are elected for life and pay no dues.

In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country, and presenting talks and concerts.


Driving in Circles


Jay Eddy / Photograph by Sam Plattus

Jay Eddy (book, music, and lyrics) is a storyteller, composer, and performer whose onstage energy has been described as “Kate McKinnon on a cocaine bender.” They are a recent Yaddo resident, Jonathan Larson Grant finalist, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, and Connecticut Office of the Arts Fellow. Works in progress include Alligator-a-Phobia in 3D!, an absurd horror comedy about alligators, swamps, isolation, and the fear of stepping outside your house, and The Gull, a freak-folk scored adaptation of Chekov’s The Seagull emceed by Masha and set just before the end of the world. M.F.A. in Playwriting at Boston University, M.A. in Music Theatre from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Perpetual Sunshine & the Ghost Girls


Sara Cooper

Sara Cooper (book & lyrics) is currently writing the lyrics for the commercial musical adaptation of a TBA major motion picture. Recent highlights: Perpetual Sunshine & the Ghost Girls, New York Theatre Barn Choreography Lab (2022) Rhinebeck Writers Retreat (2021), NYTB New Works Series (2021), 5X15, Beck Center and Baldwin Wallace (2021), National Alliance for Musical Theatre 15-Minute Challenge Winner (2020); HoT, Festival of New Musicals, Goodspeed Musicals (2022), Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Grove, Goodspeed Musicals (2020), NYTB New Works Series (2020). Jonathan Larson Grant, American Theatre Wing (2014). The Memory Show, New Bard, London (2016), Transport Group, The Duke on 42nd Street (2013), Water Gate Media, Seoul (2012-2013), Barrington Stage Company (2010), NAMT (2010). MFA Graduate Musical Theatre Writing, Tisch NYU. Dramatists Guild, ASCAP.

Lynne Shankel / Photograph by Amy Coady

Lynne Shankel (music) is best known as an orchestrator and arranger and with the show Allegiance was the first woman to solely orchestrate a new musical on Broadway. As composer: bare: the Musical (additional music); Red Velvet (original music, The Old Globe), HoT (Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony 2020, New York Theatre Barn New Works Series (2020), Dixon Place (2019); Perpetual Sunshine & the Ghost Girls (1st place winner NAMT 15 Minute Musical Competition; 5×15 Festival, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat 2021). As composer and lyricist: Postcard American Town (New York Theatre Barn New Works Series 2019, Winner, SDSU New Musicals Initiative 2020). 2021 ASCAP Lucille and Jack Yellen Award. Album: Bare Naked on Yellow Sound Label. Lynne teaches Musical Theatre Composition at the University of Michigan.

© 2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters