NEW YORK CITY: The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the winners of the 2018 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theatre, which honors works by emerging composers and writers. This year’s winning musicals are Gun & Powder by Ross Baum and Angelica Chéri, and KPOP by Jason Kim, Helen Park, Max Vernon, and Woodshed Collective. Each of the writing teams will receive support for a studio production of their work in New York City.
Gun & Powder was inspired by the true story of Chéri’s great-great-aunts, the notorious African-American twin outlaws Mary and Martha Clarke, who passed for white in post-emancipation Texas. The musical was developed at the Signature Theatre’s 2017 Sigworks Musical Theatre Lab with public presentations in Lincoln Center’s Broadway’s Future Songbook Series and the Drama League’s 2018 DirectorFest.
KPOP is an immersive musical set in a Korean pop music factory where stars are made. The show recently had a critically acclaimed sold-out run at A.R.T./NY, presented in association with Ars Nova, Ma-Yi Theater Company, and Woodshed Collective.
The awards were created by Richard Rodgers in 1978 to foster talented composers and playwrights by providing the means for their musicals to be produced in New York City with subsidized full productions, studio productions, and staged readings at non-profit theatres. They are the only awards for which the academy accepts applications.
Members of this year’s awards jury included chairman David Lang, Mindi Dickstein, Sheldon Harnick, Richard Maltby, Jr., and John Weidman.