NEWS RELEASE

2008 RICHARD RODGERS AWARDS
THREE MUSICALS WIN COMPETITION


New York, February 19, 2008 - Winners of the 2008 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater were announced today by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which administers the Rodgers Awards. They are:

Alive at Ten by KIRSTEN A. GUENTHER and RYAN SCOTT OLIVER
Kingdom by AARON JAFFERIS and IAN WILLIAMS
See Rock City & Other Destinations by BRAD ALEXANDER and ADAM MATHIAS

The three works were awarded stage readings.

The intent of the Richard Rodgers Award is to nurture the careers of talented composers and playwrights, and to have their musicals produced in New York City. Former award recipients include Maury Yeston (Nine), Jonathan Larson (Rent), Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal (Juan Darien), Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Lucky Stiff), and Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley (Violet). Since 1980 sixty-four works have been produced.

This year's jury included Stephen Sondheim (chair), Lynn Ahrens, John Guare, Sheldon Harnick, Richard Maltby, Jr., and John Weidman.

Alive at Ten, loosely based on real events, tells the story of Kimberly Sharp, high school teacher, housewife, and murderess with ambitions for TV stardom, who'll stop at nothing to achieve her dreams.

Kingdom is the story of two young men, one homeless and both jobless, who face the complexities of choices and struggles in a world of drug-dealing and gang warfare.

See Rock City & Other Destinations is a collection of short musicals set at various American tourist spots; each landmark introduces a new set of characters struggling to move past their fears and expectations to finally connect with their fellow travelers.

Richard Rodgers, elected to the Academy in 1955, endowed these awards in 1978. The awards provide financial support for productions, studio productions, or stage readings by nonprofit theaters in New York City.

The Richard Rodgers Awards are the Academy's only awards for which applications are accepted. Applications for the Richard Rodgers Awards may be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 633 West 155 Street, New York, NY 10032 or may be downloaded here.

Biographies

Brad Alexander (See Rock City & Other Desinations, music) wrote the music for Theatreworks USA's Just So Stories, Lilly's Big Day and the upcoming Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type. His music has been featured on Sony Records, Select Records, VH1, and at the Berkshire Theatre and New York Fringe Festivals. See Rock City & Other Destinations, developed in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, received its 2007 Jerry Bock Award for Excellence in Musical Theater.

Kirsten A. Guenther (Alive at Ten, book) is the author of Out of My Head, and she wrote the book and lyrics for Little Miss Fix-It, Soon Never, and The Birthday Present. She received her B.F.A. in Acting from the University of Southern California, and her M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Kristen and Ryan Scott Oliver have also collaborated on Out of My Head and have received the Dramatists Guild Fellowship and the Margo Lion Award for Excellence in Adaptation for Alive at Ten.

Aaron Jafferis (Kingdon, book and lyrics) wrote Shakespeare: The Remix (music by Gihieh Lee), and No Lie (music by Alex Vittum and Liam Baum). He has written a hip hop opera, The Weird Sisters (music by Ian Williams and others), and an opera, Stuck Elevator: The Super-Heroic Stationary Journey of Ming Kuang Chen (music by Byron Au Yong). He received his B.A. in Arts and Social Change from the University of California at Berkeley, studied at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, and received his M.F.A in Musical Theatre Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Adam Mathias (See Rock City & Other Desinations, book and lyrics) conceived and co-wrote the book and lyrics for the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival hit The Passion of George W. Bush. Adam is a member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. He is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University, Chicago, IL, and the Musical Theatre Writing program at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Ryan Scott Oliver (Alive at Ten, music and lyrics) has written the score for several musicals, including Quit India and Darling. He is the recipient of the first ASCAP Harold Adamson Lyric Award. He received his B.A. in Music Composition from UCLA and his M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Ryan and Kristen Guenther have also collaborated on Out of My Head and have received the Dramatists Guild Fellowship and the Margo Lion Award for Excellence in Adaptation for Alive at Ten.

Ian Williams (Kingdom, music) has written the music for Chakori (words by Sophie Jaff), SkidZoeFranNya (words by Don McLaughlin), and The Weird Sisters (words by Aaron Jafferis). He has written and recorded several albums for the band The Thoughts. He received his B.A. in Music Composition from Eastern Washington University, and his M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Press Contact: Jane Bolster, (212) 368-5900, academy AT artsandletters.org.