The same week "Rent" became the 10th-longest-running show in Broadway history, the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation board of trustees announced its annual grants at a Thurs., Feb. 5 luncheon at the 21 Club. Each grantee receives an unrestricted cash gift of $5,000 to $12,500.
The board named Jim and Ruth Bauer, Mark Campbell, Amanda Green, Cynthia Hopkins, Gihieh Lee, and two not-for-profits, the New York-based Raw Impressions Music Theatre and the Issaquah, Wash.-based Village Theatre, as recipients. All the grants will support musical theatre projects currently in development.
The event also included songs by grantees from previous years, including Nell Benjamin, John Didrichsen, Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen, and Jeffrey Stock, as rendered by such performers as Raul Esparza, Herndon Lackey, and Alice Ripley.
The Bauers, a married couple, are developing "The Blue Flower," set at the end of World War I. In addition to winning a berth in the 2003 ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop, the piece has had workshop performances at Joe's Pub, the Bottom Line, and in the HERE Culturemart Festival.
Campbell, a book writer, librettist, and lyricist, has already copped a Kleban award, two Richard Rodgers awards, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, and a Drama Desk nomination. His works include "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "A Hunger Artist," which enjoyed New York Theatre Workshop readings, a version of "Volpone" for which he wrote the libretto, and projects at the Kitchen, the BAM Next Wave Festival, P.S. 122, and HERE.
The daughter of the late Adolph Green and actress Phyllis Newman, Amanda Green is a performer and songwriter with roots in the cabaret scene. She wrote lyrics for and appeared in "For the Love of Tiffany: A Wifetime Original Musical," which ran in the 2003 New York International Fringe Festival, and she is collaborating with composer Tom Kitt on "High Fidelity," derived from the book and film. Green is also writing additional lyrics for an upcoming revival of the Tony-winning musical "Hallelujah, Baby!"
An Obie winner for her music for Mac Wellman's "At Jennie Richee," Cynthia Hopkins and her band, Gloria Deluxe, have played many venues as diverse as BAMcafe, Joe's Pub, and Fez. Currently, she has two projects in hand: "Accidental Nostalgia," an operetta set to play St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn this spring, and a music commission for Bang on a Can, being performed this fall.
A recent graduate of the New York University musical theatre M.F.A. program, Gihieh Lee, a South Korea native, brings an ethnic spin to this year's grantee list. Her works include "Tock Tick," written with Tim Nevits; two English musicals, "You Are Not Me" and "Shakespeare: The Remix"; and a Korean musical, "Soyohna, Himnaera," written with Jong-Yoon Choi.
Raw Impressions Music Theatre produces the RIPFest, an annual event in which eight composer-writer teams create a 10-minute piece in one week. The group will use its Larson grant to support a new commissioning program. As a leading producer of musicals in the Pacific Northwest, Village Theatre will workshop "Feeling Electric," a new shock-therapy rock musical by Brian Yorkey and the aforementioned Tom Kitt.
Larson grant recipients are selected by the staff of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation, headed by Executive Director Nancy Kassak Diekmann; the board of trustees, including "Rent" co-producer Kevin McCollum and actor Jesse L. Martin; and a panel that included Barbara Pasternack, Stephen Schwartz, Barry Singer, and Tim Weil. The grants' goal echoes the foundation's mission: "to provide encouragement and financial assistance to composers, lyricists, book writers, and other creative artists as well as nonprofit producing companies."
The application deadline for 2005 Larson grants is to be announced; it is generally in mid-September. Individuals may apply by mail or online for general support for the ongoing development of work or for specific projects; collaborators may apply as teams. For more information, contact the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation, P.O. Box 672, Prince St. Station, New York, NY 10012, call (212) 529-0814, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The foundation's website is www.jlpaf.org.