Meet the Winner of the Kleban Prize for the Most Promising Musical Theater Lyricist

We here at IP have been on a major Burt Burt Bacharach kick as of late.

As you may know, he's the six-time Grammy Award-winning and three-time Academy Award-winning composer known for his popular hit songs and compositions from the late 1950s through the 1980s. (We actually gave a shout-out to his hit "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?" in a recent post.)

Burt got—and continues to get—lots of accolades, but he rarely wrote lyrics to his songs. That was the job of Hal David. This was a problem, particularly in the '60s. Burt was getting all the press while Hal languished in the shadows. This tension contributed to the temporary dissolution of their partnership.

What's this got to do with, well, anything?

Simple. The Kleban Foundation recently announced the 25th annual Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theater lyricist. Finally, the lyricist is getting some love. The winner is Sam Willmott, a New York City-based musical theater composer, lyricist, and bookwriter whose projects include Standardized Testing - The Musical!!!! and Yo, Vikings! 

The foundation also announced the 25th annual Kleban Prize for the most promising musical theatre librettist, awarded to Sam Carner.

The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 through 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 two 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.

Over the past 25 years, the annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre has awarded approximately $5,000,000 to 62 artists.

According to Kleban, awards are given to "developing talents" with an eye toward "the promise of creativity to come." To that end, we're particularly curious to see what's next for Mr. Willmott. Perhaps a sequel to Standardized Testing — The Musical!!!! entitled Standardized Testing II — The Curriculum Made Me Do It!!!