2021 Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre
Headshot of Benjamin Scheuer and headshot of Melissa Li and Kit Yan
L to R: Benjamin Scheuer, Melissa Li and Kit Yan

The Kleban Foundation celebrates the 31st anniversary of the annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre with the announcement of the 2021 prizewinners. The Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre lyricist has been awarded to BENJAMIN SCHEUER. The Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist has been awarded to co-librettists MELISSA LI and KIT YAN.

The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, best known as the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning lyricist of the musical A Chorus Line.  Kleban's will made provisions for annual prizes, which in recent years have totaled $100,000 each, payable over two years, to be given to the most promising lyricist and librettist in American musical theatre. For over 30 years, the Kleban Prize, which has recognized and honored some of the American musical theatre's brightest developing talents, is unique in that it is bestowed not just for an artist's previous achievements, but for the promise of creativity to come.
Since its inception, the Kleban Prize has awarded over $6,000,000 to 79 artists. Previous Kleban Prize winners include LISA KRON, ROBERT L. FREEDMAN and STEVEN LUTVAK, DAVID LINDSAY-ABAIRE, JASON ROBERT BROWNGRETCHEN CRYER, MICHAEL KORIE, JEFF MARX and ROBERT LOPEZ, MICHAEL JOHN LACHUISA, GLENN SLATER, and JOHN WEIDMAN.

"...In this unique and challenging year, Ed Kleban's legacy may be more important than ever in its engaging with and fostering the creators of tomorrow's American Musical theatre," said Richard Maltby Jr, President of the Kleban Foundation. "Ed Kleban recognized that theatrical wordsmiths had the hardest time supporting themselves while honing their craft, and so the Kleban awards are specifically for librettists and lyricists. With a uniquely generous endowment, the Kleban Prize identifies, celebrates, and supports the most promising writing talent in the theatre, just when emerging writers and established writers need help the most. In these challenging times, The Kleban Foundation is proud to carry on Ed Kleban's enlightened legacy and to continue fostering the work of new writers, as well as supporting writers who have already begun to establish themselves. Kleban Prize winners are the artists who are going to define the art form for years to come. We celebrate them, their fresh perspectives and creative energy that will be so very important to the theater when it returns."