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Musical wins 2017 Richard Rodgers Award

New York, February 15, 2017 – The winner of the 2017 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater was announced today by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which administers the Richard Rodgers Awards.


What I Learned from People by Will Aronson and Hue Park
received a Production Award


What I Learned from People is a romantic comedy set in late 21st-century Seoul. Looking past our era of technology-driven isolation, the musical imagines a magical and bittersweet reawakening to the things that make us human.

The intent of the Richard Rodgers Awards is to nurture talented composers and playwrights by enabling their musicals to be produced in New York City.  Former award recipients include Maury Yeston, for Nine; Jonathan Larson, for Rent; Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal, for Juan Darien; 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; and Dave Malloy for Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.

This year’s jury included David Lang, chairman, Lynn Ahrens, Sheldon Harnick, Richard Maltby, Jr., Jeanine Tesori, and John Weidman.

Richard Rodgers, who was 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 these awards may be downloaded from the academy’s website at



Will Aronson and Hue Park
Photo credit: Pyo Kisik

Will Aronson is a composer and writer for theater.  His scores include My Scary Girl (Best Musical, NYMF 2009); Mother, Me & the Monsters (Barrington Stage; Boston Globe Critic’s Pick); Bungee Jump (Best Score, Korean Musical Awards); Pete the Cat (Theatreworks USA); Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Günter (NAMT development grant); Wind-Up Girl (Ars Nova Uncharted); and The Trouble With Doug (Fredericia Teater 2017, directed by Victoria Clark).

Hue Park is a Korean-born, Brooklyn-based theater writer and graphic designer. He began his career as a K-pop lyricist in Seoul, where his work included the top-20 song 울어도 괜찮아 (It’s Okay to Cry)He has since written the original musicals Bungee Jump (lyrics), and I Hate Christmas (book & lyrics), as well as the Korean translations of the musicals The Bodyguard and Carmen. Bungee Jump was cited by the NY Times in 2013 as Korea’s “most popular original musical,” and won Best Score at Korea’s 2013 Musical Awards.

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.

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