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American Theatre Wing Names 2020 Jonathan Larson Grant Winners

This year’s winners are the Bengsons, Anna K. Jacobs, Rona Siddiqui, and Benjamin Velez.

NEW YORK CITY: The American Theatre Wing has named the winners of the 2020 Jonathan Larson Grants, which recognize emerging composers, lyricists, and book writers in honor of Jonathan Larson. This year’s winners include the Bengsons, Anna K. Jacobs, Rona Siddiqui, and Benjamin Velez.

Shaun and Abigail Bengson.

Each of the winners will receive an unrestricted grant of $10,000 in addition to support in the form of residencies, concerts, and recording grants. The grantees will present their work at a private awards ceremony in New York City on March 23.

“Each year our panel of judges takes on the difficult task of choosing, from among hundreds of applicants, the artists who best embody Jonathan’s creative spirit and have the potential to take musical theatre to new heights,” said American Theatre Wing president and CEO Heather Hitchens in a statement. “Over the years, Larson Grant winners have gone on to garner 41 Tony Nominations, six Tony Awards, 10 Obie Awards, six Grammys, and two Oscars, so we make this announcement with particular pride and excitement each year knowing the impact that Jonathan Larson and his legacy grant recipients will have on our industry.”

The Bengsons, Abigail and Shaun, are a married composing and performing duo. Their theatre work includes Hundred Days (La Jolla Playhouse, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theater, Know Theater, Z Space, U.S. Tour), The Lucky Ones (Ars Nova), Sundown, Yellow Moon (Ars Nova/WP), Anything That Gives Off Light (Edinburgh Theatre Festival, U.S. Tour), Hurricane Diane (New York Theatre Workshop, Two River Theatre), You’ll Still Call Me By Name (New York Live Arts, Jacob’s Pillow), The Place We Built (the Flea), and Iphigenia in Aulis (Classic Stage Company).

Jacobs is a composer, lyricist, librettist, and educator. Her work includes the stage musicals Pop! (Yale Rep, Pittsburgh City Theatre, Studio Theatre; book & lyrics by Maggie-Kate Coleman), Teeth (NAMT, O’Neill; co-book & lyrics by Michael R. Jackson), Anytown (George Street Playhouse; book by Jim Jack), Harmony, Kansas (Diversionary Theatre; book & lyrics by Bill Nelson), Echo (the Gallery Players, Musical Theatre Factory), and Stella and the Moon Man (Sydney Theatre Company/Theatre of Image; written by Richard Tulloch, co-composed by Adrian Kelly), and the movie musical, Kaya: Taste of Paradise (NY Film Academy; directed by Paul Warner). Currently, she and playwright Anna Ziegler are collaborating on a new musical for Barbara Whitman Productions and Grove Entertainment.

Siddiqui is a composer/lyricist based in New York City. She recently won the prestigious Billie Burke Ziegfeld award. Her show Salaam Medina: Tales of a Halfghan, an autobiographical comedy about growing up bi-ethnic in America had a reading at Playwrights Horizons in Novemeber, directed by Raja Feather Kelly) Other musicals include One Good Day, The Tin, and Treasure in NYC. She is the recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award, and the ASCAP Foundation/Max Dreyfus Scholarship. She has written pieces for Wicked‘s 16th anniversary commemoration Flying Free, the 24 Hour Musicals, Prospect Theater Company, the Civilians, the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus, and 52nd St Project, and has performed concerts of her work at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and 54 Below. 

Velez is a composer/lyricist and Columbia graduate (114th Varsity Show). Proud member of the BMI workshop (2012 Harrington Award). His work has been at MTF, Ars Nova, NAMT, NEO, the Civilians, 4@15, and Joe’s Pub. He was a Sundance Artist at the UCROSS Foundation, and his musical Afterland was developed at YIMT and the York Theater. He developed Starblasters at Dixon Place and will workshop it at Manhattan School of Music in Spring 2020. His musical Borderline won the 2018 Weston Playhouse New Musical Award and was workshopped at the 2019 O’Neill Musical Theater Conference. He was a 2018-19 DGF Fellow and the 2019 Fred Ebb Award Winner. His musical Kiss My Aztec, written with John Leguizamo, Tony Taccone, and David Kamp, had its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, followed by a run at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2019.

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