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The 2020 Kleban Prize for Most Promising Musical Theatre Lyricist Goes to Daniel Messé

The 2020 Kleban Prize for Most Promising Musical Theatre Lyricist Goes to Daniel Messé

The 2020 Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre for the most promising musical theatre lyricist has been awarded to Daniel Messé. The prize include a monetary award of $100,000 and was presented in a private ceremony on.

Gerard Alessandrini with Daniel Messe, Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

The Kleban Foundation, established in 1988 in honor of composer and lyricist Edward Kleban, recognizes musical theatre librettists and lyricists. This year’s winners were selected by a trio of Tony-winning judges: Gerard Alessandrini, Victoria Clark, and Robyn Goodman.

Mike Lew, Rehana Lew Mirza and Daniel Messe with the board of directors that includes-Elliot Brown, Richard Maltby, Jr., Richard Terrano, John Weidman, Andre Bishop, Gerard Alessandrini, Maury Yeston and Sarah Douglas Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Richard Maltby, Jr. Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

“This year we celebrate 30 years of the Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre,” said Tony winner Richard Maltby Jr., president of the Kleban Foundation, in a statement. “For three decades, the Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre has been one of the theatre’s most distinctive honors. Ed Kleban recognized that theatrical wordsmiths had the hardest time supporting themselves while honing their craft, and so the Kleban awards are specifically for librettists and lyricists. While other theatre awards recognize the best of the past season, the Kleban Prize celebrates work yet to be done…Kleban Prize winners are the artists who are going to define the art form for years to come.”

Daniel Messe, Richard Maltby, Jr. Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Daniel Messe and cast that includes-Jocelyn Mackenzie, Steve Curtis, Nathan Tysen and George Rush Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Messé is the founder and principal songwriter of the band Hem, which began in 2001 with the album Rabbit Songs. In 2009, the Public Theater tapped Hem to score their summer Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night, for which they earned a Drama Desk Nomination. Along with Craig Lucas (book) and Nathan Tysen (co-lyrics), Messé wrote the music and lyrics for the musical adaptation of the French film Amélie, which debuted on Broadway in 2017. Messé has written four musicals for TheatreWorks USA with collaborator Mindi Dickstein. Messé  is also a recipient on a Jonathan Larson Grant from the American Theatre Wing, the ASCAP/Frederick Loewe Award, and an E.Y. “Yip” Harburg Fellowship. Currently, Messé is at work on a new theatrical song cycle inspired by Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.” He is also working together again with Craig Lucas (book) along with Sean Hartley (co-lyrics) on adapting Craig’s play, Prelude to a Kiss, for South Coast Rep. Education includes a BA from Carleton College and an MFA from NYU’s Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

He present a piece from  Amélie called “Half Asleep” performed by Nathan Tysen, Jocelyn Mackenzie, Steve Curtis,  and George Rush

and his newest piece inspired by Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” You Don’t Know About Me Without You “The Gold Saves The Thieves” performed by Nathan Tysen, Jocelyn Mackenzie, Steve Curtis and George Rush.

Jocelyn Mackenzie, Nathan Tysen Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

This award will help him write that pice and see it to fruition.

Nathan Tysen, Jocelyn Mackenzie, George Rush Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Patrick Cook Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Daniel Messe and his cast that includes- Nathan Tysen, Jocelyn Mackenzie, Steve Curtis,  and George Rush Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

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Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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