NEW YORK, March 9, 2023—The American Academy of Arts and Letters announces the two recipients of the 2023 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater. Both winning musicals will receive funds toward their presentation in staged readings at nonprofit theaters in New York City. 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.
Richard Rodgers, who was elected to the Academy in 1955, endowed these awards in 1978 to nurture talented composers and playwrights. Former award recipients include Maury Yeston, for Nine; 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.
The Richard Rodgers Awards are the Academy’s only awards for which applications are accepted. Application forms may be found at the Academy’s website here.
Lewis Loves Clark by Dylan MarcAurele and Mike Ross
Lewis Loves Clark is a historical tragicomedy about the famous Corps of Discovery expedition. Combining bluegrass, folk, and pop, this epic musical charts the uneasy alliance of Meriwether Lewis (a depressed closeted alcoholic), William Clark (just breathtakingly oblivious), Sacagawea (permanently exasperated), and York (who would rather be birdwatching) as they grapple with the perils of exploration, infatuation, colonization, the terrible birth of our modern nation, and the torture and hope of the unknown.
Marie in Tomorrow Land by Maggie-Kate Coleman and Erato A. Kremmyda
Marie in Tomorrow Land, created in collaboration with director/choreographer Sam Pinkleton, is a modular ensemble musical in which a group of human survivors and a pack of radioactive boars, all bearing the name Marie Curie, find themselves trapped in the remains of a Chernobyl-inspired amusement park in the immediate aftermath of a global nuclear event. With only a theme-park character Marie as their guide, they navigate the ruins, encountering the wondrous effects and devastating repercussions of Curie’s work while piecing together their histories and futures: as humans, as survivors, and as Marie Curie.
Dylan MarcAurele (music) is a New York-based writer. Composing credits include the folk musical tragicomedy Lewis Loves Clark (2020 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellowship), interactive dark comedy Tea With G, and family musical The Land of Forgotten Toys (“This score could compete with a lot of far more famous holiday attractions…You might want to catch this show just to hear MarcAurele’s tune.”—Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune). An avid fan of trash TV, he wrote book, music, and lyrics for the recent sell-out run of The Real Housewives of New York: The Unauthorized Parody Musical, created the 28,000-follower Instagram account @RHONYmusical as seen on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, and also penned the upcoming queer horror pop musical M3GAN: The Unauthorized Parody Musical. He was a 2021 Larson Grant Finalist. B.A. in Music, Harvard University, ’16.
Mike Ross (book & lyrics) is a New York-based lyricist/librettist, dramaturg, and author for young readers. Together with his writing partner Dylan MarcAurele, he has written the original historical tragicomedy Lewis Loves Clark (2020 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellowship), and family musicals The Mystery of Custodia and Miley Chase the Science Ace. Ross has provided additional lyrics and dramaturgy for shows including Kerrigan-Lowdermilk’s The Bad Years (2016, dir. Stephen Brackett) and The Land of Forgotten Toys (2019, Greenhouse Theater Center). He is a member of the BMI Lehman-Engel Musical Theatre Advanced Workshop. Plays include Carrie & Otis, Sorry, and Space: Four Stories in Boston. He has three books out for young readers through Scholastic; his fourth book, Nugly, will be out next fall.
Maggie-Kate Coleman (book & lyrics) is a playwright, lyricist, librettist, curator, educator, and advocate for new work. She is the Artistic Director of the Polyphone Festival at UArts in Philadelphia. Her work has been developed at the Orchard Project, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Space on Ryder Farm, Ars Nova, The Civilians R&D Group, and The American Music Theatre Project, among others. Selected works: POP! (Yale Rep, Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Best Musical 2009/Studio Theatre, 7 Helen Hayes nominations/City Theatre, et. al.); The Gift of the Magi (commission, Arkansas Rep); Inside, Outside, Upside Down (commission, Company of Fools); Hotel Méditeranée (Wild Project); We Will Not Be Silent (concert commission, NYMF). Coleman was a 2015 MacDowell Fellow and a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Grant in 2017. She lives in Philadelphia, where she teaches playwriting and musical theater at the University of the Arts. MFA Graduate Musical Theatre Writing, Tisch NYU, BA Ithaca College.
Erato A. Kremmyda (music) is a composer, and sometimes music director, orchestrator, and sound designer. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, she is a Jonathan Larson Award winner, a Fulbright fellow, and an Anna Sosenko Trust Grant recipient. Recent projects: Riot Antigone (La Mama, Ars Nova), Artaud/Van Gogh (Greek Art Theater), We Will Not Be Silent (“How The Light Gets In” NYMF commission), Hymn To Liberty (Philippi International Festival), Inside, Outside, Upside Down (Company of Fools commission), Hotel Méditeranée (Wild Project). She has worked as guest composer or teaching artist at Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Northwestern, and UArts, among others. Kremmyda is a New Dramatists “Composer Librettist Studio” alum and has been in residence at Harvard ArtLab, Ars Nova, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, AMTP, Space on Ryder Farm, The Orchard Project, World Wide Lab, and The Civilians RnD Group. Graduate of Tisch School of the Arts (MFA), Steinhardt NYU (MM, Film Scoring), Athens University, and Athens Conservatoire.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND LETTERS
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.