Sam Willmott and Sam Carner have been named the 2015 winners of the Kleban Prize, the big-league musical theater awards honoring promising lyricists and book writers.
Willmott (pictured right) scored the award for musical theater lyricist while Carner (pictured left) takes home the laurel for librettist. Each award, established under the will of “A Chorus Line” lyricist Edward L. Kleban, totals $100,000, paid out over two years.
Over its 25 year lifespan, the Kleban has pointed the theater industry toward up-and-comers who have gone on to have significant success on Broadway and elsewhere, with Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”), Jason Robert Brown (“The Last Five Years,” “Honeymoon in Vegas”) and Glenn Slater (“Galavant,” the upcoming “School of Rock” musical) among those writers singled out early in their careers.
Willmott (“Standardized Testing — The Musical!,” “Yo, Vikings!”), has previously won the Jonathan Larson Grant and the Fred Ebb Award, and his upcoming titles include “Bhangin’ It!” and the stage adaptation of “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.” Carner, who has taught at Yale and New York University, has co-written musicals including “Unlock’d,” a New York Musical Theater Festival award winner, and “Island Song.”
This final selections for this year’s winners were made by a trio of judges that included actress Kerry Butler (“Clinton the Musical”), Wiley Hausam of Stanford University, and composer David Shire (“Baby,” “Big”). The Kleban Foundation will present the 2015 awards to Willmott and Carner in a private ceremony at ASCAP, which hosts the event with BMI.