NEW YORK CITY: The American Theatre Wing has announced the recipients of the 2016 Jonathan Larson Grants. César Alvarez, Nikko Benson, Carson Kreitzer, and Sam Salmond will each be awarded $10,000.
“The Jonathan Larson Grants give us the opportunity each year to support exciting new theatremakers and invest in the changing landscape of the American musical, one writer at a time,” president of the American Theatre Wing, Heather Hitchens, said in a statement.
The organization will also give grant recipients other resources. For the first time this year, in addition to the Larson Grants, the Saw Island Foundation Recording Grants will be awarded to Alvarez, Benson, and Salmond. The grants are for the artists to create new demo recordings of their work.
Kreitzer will receive a weeklong residency at Running Deer Musical Theatre Lab’s Writer’s Retreat, for her and her collaborators to incubate a new musical. Alvarez and Salmond will both receive a concert at the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center, Larson’s alma mater, showcasing their work as part of the Larson Legacy Concert Series.
Alvarez is a composer, lyricist, performer, and writer. His recent compositions include FUTURITY, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon, Washeteria, The Foundry Theater’s Good Person of Szechwan, Mac Wellman’s 3 2’s; or AFAR, and Full Still Hungry. He is currently developing The Universe is a Small Hat, The Elementary Spacetime Show (Ars Nova Uncharted, EST/Sloan Commission, Polyphone Festival), and Castro with Lucas Hnath (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor and Space at Ryder Farm). Alvarez is an artist-in-residence at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Benson is a musical theatre writer and performer. He is currently developing Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat with Benjamin Halstead. Benson’s music has been featured in cabaret venues in the city including Brian Stokes Mitchell’s Plays With Music and William Finn’s Ridiculously Talented series, and his own Start Again and In Pursuit of Magic. Benson is a founding member of the Musical Theater Factory, a teaching artist at the Performing Arts Project, a member of ASCAP, and a member of the Dramatists’ Guild.
Kreitzer’s work includes The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer, SELF DEFENSE or death of some salesmen, Flesh and the Desert, The Slow Drag, Slither, Behind the Eye, and Lasso of Truth. Her current projects are Capital Crime!, a commission for the Guthrie Theatre, and Lempicka, with composer Matt Gould. A member of the Workhaus Collective, Kreitzer is an alumna of New Dramatists and was the first Playwrights of New York Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center.
Sam Salmond is a Brooklyn-based composer, lyricist, and book writer. His past work includes Uncool: the Party; Mother, Me and the Monsters; the book and lyrics for Cage Match; and songs for Shakina Nayfack’s One Woman Show and Post-Op. His current project is writing music and lyrics for an adaptation of Eighty-Sixed, a novel by AIDS activist David Feinberg.
Composer/lyricist and former grant recipient Dave Malloy, producer Kristin Caskey, and director Kristin Marting selected the 2016 recipients. Former recipients of the grant include Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey; and Amanda Green.
The Jonathan Larson Grants are given annually to up-and-coming composers, lyricists, and book writers in honor of the late composer of Rent.