At a Feb. 14 luncheon in New York City, five individuals and three organizations were named 2002 grant recipients from the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation. Their collective musical talents and tastes, as well as their demographics, represent as diverse a group of winners as the late, much revered "Rent" writer might have wished for. The five individuals include Debra Barsha, Peter Jones, Julia Jordan, Michael Korie, and Peter Mills; the three organizations include The Lark Theatre Company, Page Seventy-Three Productions, and the Arlington, Va.-based Signature Theatre.
Composer/lyricist Barsha is currently working on "Radiant Baby," a revue-style salute to the late artist Keith Haring, slated to make it's Public Theater bow this fall. (Ira Gasman, late of "The Life," is Barsha's co-lyricist.) A six-time winner of the ASCAP Popular Songwriter's Award (1995-2001), Barsha has also written "Sophie," produced by Jewish Repertory Theatre, and a solo show, "Go To Your Womb."
Composer/lyricist Peter Jones, who was once more recognized for being Stephen Sondheim's significant other than for being a musical theatre artist in his own right, recently wrote and directed "One and One Make Two," a musical two-hander. Jones is also the creative force behind the long-gestating musical version of "Peyton Place," several songs of which appeared in "Numbers," a 1999 revue of his material, which played several performances at Irish Rep.
Librettist/lyricist Michael Korie--whose "Doll" won him a Kleban Award, who co-wrote the opera "Harvey Milk," and whose "Meet Mister Future," a musical about the 1939 World's Fair, is in development at Manhattan Theatre Club--is, with composer Ricky Ian Gordon, currently writing the libretto for "The Grapes of Wrath.
In addition to triple-threat composer/lyricist/librettist Peter Mills ("The Taxi Cabaret," "The Flood"), the Foundation also doled out its first-ever award to a librettist: Julia Jordan, whose "Mice" forms one-third of the New York-bound "3hree," directed by Hal Prince. Jordan also received an honorable mention from the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize committee.
All five recipients received "unrestricted cash grants" of between $4,000 and $15,000. The three organizations received $2,500 apiece.
Larson grants are determined by the foundation's staff, headed by Executive Director Nancy Kassak Diekmann, the foundation's board of trustees (including "Rent" co-producer Kevin McCollum and actor Jesse L. Martin), and a specially selected "expert panel." The goal of the awards is tied to foundation's mission: "to provide encouragement and financial assistance to composers, lyricists, book writers and other creative artists as well as nonprofit producing companies." A priority is given in particular to individual creative artists working in musical theatre.
The deadline for the 2003 Larson awards is Sept. 10. Individuals may apply, by mail or online, for general support for the ongoing development of their work, or for support for a particular project. Collaborators who work together regularly may also apply as a team. Organizations may apply for either project or general support.
For more information, contact the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation, P.O. Box 672, Prince St. Station, New York, NY 10012, or call (212) 529-0814, or e-mail . The foundation's website is www.jlpaf.org.