Lisa Kron and Daniel Zaitchik have been awarded the 27th annual Kleban Prize in a private ceremony as ASCAP held February 6. Zaitchik walked away with the prize for most promising musical-theater lyricist and Kron was honored with the prize for most promising musical-theater librettist. Both received a $100,000 award accompanying the honor.
Zaitchik's projects include Picnic at Hanging Rock (book/music/lyrics), Darling Grenadine (book/music/lyrics), Ula (book/music/lyrics), and Suprema (with playwright Jordan Harrison). His musicals have been selected three times for development at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Music Theater Conference and his work has also been developed at Lincoln Center Theater, Ars Nova, New Dramatists, The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony, and Goodspeed's Festival of New Musicals.
Kron is best known for her Tony-winning libretto and lyrics for the 2015 Tony-winning musical Fun Home (written with composer Jeanine Tesori). In addition to five Tony Awards, the musical was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Kron's plays include In The Wake, the Obie Award-winning 2.5 Minute Ride, and Well, in which she also starred, earning a Tony nomination for her performance. She is the recipient of Guggenheim, Sundance and MacDowell fellowships, a Doris Duke Performing Artists Award, a Cal Arts/Alpert Award, a Helen Merrill Award, and grants from the Creative Capital and NYFA. Kron is also a founding member of the OBIE and Bessie-Award-winning collaborative theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers.
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 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 Theater.
The judges making this year's final determinations were Academy Award-winning songwriting team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (In Transit), Tony-nominated actress Mary Testa (Xanadu), and Ira Weitzman (Lincoln Center Theater's Mindich Musical Theater Associate Producer).