So, I won the Kleban.
About a month ago, I was picking up stuff for salad at the co-op for our family Chanukah party when I got a call from Elliot Brown, the legendary lawyer. Naturally I was nervous. I went to the front of the store where there's reception - he had Richard Maltby, Jr. on the phone - and Richard told me that I had won the Kleban Prize for Most Promising Librettist for 2016. To say that I was gobsmacked is an understatement. I had to lean against the microbrews to stay standing. The Kleban has the best application of all awards - you send them your work and that's it - no essays, no interviews, no multiple rounds - you either get it or you don't. So I had mostly put it out of my mind, thinking that there was no way it was going to me.
But this year, it did. So I bought my lettuce, went home and made latkes.
I was already so proud of what UNKNOWN SOLDIER has become - but this is icing on an already tasty cake and pushes me to continue doing what I've already been loving doing - writing musicals, currently with Dawn Landes on ROW, a NY Voices commission from Joe's Pub and The Public Theater (and one more very exciting project to be announced soon.)
Bookwriting is the most collaborative of theatrical sports - and I have so many people to thank.
Obviously, my wife, Melissa Lee and my daughter Gracie for supporting me, while I did all the workshops and readings and the production this summer. Every bit of all of it is for you two.
Nicholas Martin, may he (eat potato chips) in peace - who asked Michael and me to write something, while he was at the Huntington Theater Company - and gave some money to do it - a Calderwood Commission - and more importantly, a deadline - simply because he believed in us as young artists.
Every actor who ever did a reading of the show - and there have been a LOT of readings. (I was never sad for a reading - every time we work on the show it gets better - always seems like there's more to work on - more to explore and change and mess with). So many questions or thoughts that actors have had have led to big and small changes in the show and really amazing revelations. So I thank you - especially my pal (and housemate and badminton partner this summer) Erik Lochtefeld.
Laura Eason and Allison Horsley - who served as Director and Dramaturg when we worked on the show under Paulette Haupt at The National Musical Theater Conference at The O'Neill, and whose insights shaped the show immensely.
Mandy Greenfield and Annie MacRae - who found the show, fell in love with it, and championed it first at MTC and then Mandy who did the incredible thing of saying she was going to program it her first year at Williamstown and then actually did. And Elliott Masie and Hunter Arnold for supporting that production.
Trip Cullman - who has been our not so secret weapon for the past few years - and has brought is razor sharp eye to the play, and taught me things about writing (and directing) that I'm forever grateful for.
Most of all, Michael Friedman, who is my partner in all ways on this play, and without whom, there simply wouldn't be a musical. His incredible intelligence, sense of humor, style and wit, mixed with a passion for the material and a loathing of the inauthentic has shaped every word of UNKNOWN SOLDIER, and I am so truly grateful to him for everything.
Check out the photos from Trip's stunning production on the main page of the website.