The American Theatre Wing is pleased to announce that the 2021 Jonathan Larson® Grant recipients are Shayok Misha Chowdhury & Laura Grill Jaye (Music, Lyrics, and Book), The Lazours (Music, Lyrics, and Book), Grace McLean (Music and Lyrics), Zeniba Now (Lyrics and Book) and Kit Mee Kuen Yan (Lyrics and Book). Each recipient will receive an unrestricted grant of $10,000 as well as additional support in the form of residencies, concerts and recording grants.
A special presentation honoring the 2021 recipients will be announced at a later date. This ceremony will also celebrate 2020 recipients The Bengsons (Music and Lyrics), Anna K. Jacobs (Music and Lyrics), Rona Siddiqui (Music and Lyrics) and Benjamin Velez (Music and Lyrics), as the 2020 presentation was initially postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. The event will feature special performances of the recipients’ work.
“Each year, the Jonathan Larson Grants are a reminder of the hundreds of tenacious theatre-makers waiting for the right opportunity to be seen and recognized. By saying ‘Yes’ to artists such as these five deserving recipients, we honor Jonathan’s legacy by supporting what’s new and next in musical theatre,” American Theatre Wing President & CEO Heather Hitchens commented.
The Jonathan Larson Grants are an unconditional annual investment in individual talent. They are awarded to musical theatre composers, lyricists, and librettists, or writing teams, early in their career, to support artistic endeavors and safeguard long-term music writing careers. Recipients are given free reign to put the grant’s resources towards what they see as the best use for furthering their creative endeavors with the hope that the grant will provide the support necessary for artists to see their work from concept to cultural success.
Recipients were selected by an expert panel consisting of Composer/Lyricist/Playwright César Alvarez (2016 Larson Grant recipient), Talent Agent Di Glazer (partner and Co-Head of the Theater Department, ICM Partners), Tony® and Grammy® Award winning producer Mara Isaacs (Hadestown, The Inheritance, founder of Octopus Theatricals), and Obie and Lily Award-winning director/writer/musician Whitney White (Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, Aleshea Harris’ What to Send Up When it Goes Down).
Previous grant recipients include Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Prom, Elf), Shaina Taub (The Devil Wears Prada), Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land), Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde: The Musical), Joe Iconis (Be More Chill), Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), Amanda Green (Hands on a Hard Body), Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop), and many more.
ABOUT THE RECIPIENTS
Shayok Misha Chowdhury & Laura Grill Jaye – Music, Lyrics, and Book
Shayok Misha Chowdhury is a many-tentacled writer, director, and music-maker based in Brooklyn. Currently: Misha is writing PUBLIC OBSCENITIES (Soho Rep, NAATCO), a new bilingual play, and RHEOLOGY (HERE Arts), a concert-memoir-physics-symposium. Recently: BROTHER, BROTHER (New York Theatre Workshop) with Aleshea Harris; MUKHAGNI (Under the Radar) with Kameron Neal; HOW THE WHITE GIRL GOT HER SPOTS AND OTHER 90s TRIVIA (Joe’s Pub, Ars Nova) with Laura Grill Jaye. Misha and Laura have written many musicals together; their current collaboration, BLOOD OLEANDER, reimagines a century-old Bengali drama in Tennessee coal country. Misha is also the creator of VICHITRA, a series of sound-driven, cinematic experiments including IN ORDER TO BECOME (Bushwick Starr), which he is developing into a queer Carnatic opera. He was a soloist and collaborator on the Grammy-winning album CALLING ALL DAWNS and has been awarded fellowships from Sundance, Fulbright, NYSCA/NYFA, Jerome, New York Theatre Workshop, and Kundiman. MFA: Columbia. https://www.shayokmishachowdhury.com/
Laura Grill Jaye is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, improviser, educator, performer, and music director. She is half of the musical-writing duo “Grill and Chowder” with Shayok Misha Chowdhury. Their work has been seen or developed at Ars Nova, New York Theatre Workshop, SPACE on Ryder Farm, NYMF, HERE Arts Center, and Joe’s Pub @ The Public Theater. With the Laura Grill Band, Laura has written and produced two records, NEVER BEFORE and TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS, and toured nationally. The Boston Globe called her original music “jump jazz, barroom rock, chamber folk, and downright infectious.” She has collaborated with Jacob Collier, Audra McDonald, Luciana Souza, and Jason Moran. Laura received her MM in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory and her BM in Jazz Voice and Composition from the Chicago College of Performing Arts. She is on faculty at Meridian Academy in Boston and MIT’s Music and Theater Arts program. https://www.lauragrilljaye.com/
The Lazours – Music, Lyrics, and Book
Daniel and Patrick Lazour are brothers, musicians, and music theatre writers. Their musical We Live in Cairo premiered at the American Repertory Theater in May 2019 directed by Taibi Magar; and an album of its music Flap My Wings (Songs from We Live in Cairo) was, by the grace of G-d, recorded in quarantine and features major activist-songwriters from the Arab world. They’re developing Night Side Songs—a sing-along about cancer treatment, patients and caretakers—with the American Repertory Theater and Harvard University. Their movie musical Challenger: An American Dream is about the 1986 shuttle explosion and the Republican fallacy, and their 60-minute epic song Romulus & Remus, is based on Rome’s foundation myth. They are working with Ritesh Batra to adapt his film The Lunchbox for the stage. They thank Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Goodspeed, MacDowell, UCross, Dramatists Guild Foundation, and Yaddo for giving them space to work. They thank their friends at New York Theatre Workshop and are grateful to be Teaching Artists with Lincoln Center Theater. They also thank anybody who listens to their music—the most generous of those being their parents, Paul and Nel. @frereslazour https://www.thelazours.com/
Grace McLean – Music and Lyrics
Grace McLean is a performer, writer and composer. Broadway: Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Off-Broadway and Regional include New Group, MCC, LCT3, The Public, Vineyard, La MaMa, BAM, Weston Playhouse, ART, Williamstown Theatre Festival. TV: The First Lady (Showtime), The Other Two (HBO Max). Her first musical In The Green earned her a Richard Rodgers Award for her writing and a Lortel for her performance. Grace McLean & Them Apples performed in the 2015 and 2016 seasons of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, and Grace toured Pakistan and Russia as an artistic ambassador with the US State Department. Writer-in-residence at Lincoln Center, one of Broadway Women’s Fund’s Women to Watch (‘21), Civilians R&D Group (‘19-’20), MacDowell Fellow (‘18), Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award (‘17). The original cast recording for In The Green and EPs Make Me Breakfast and Natural Disaster are available now. www.gracemclean.com
Zeniba Now – Lyrics and Book
Zeniba Now is a musical storyteller and artscientist from Los Angeles, CA. Her work aims to inspire magic and possibility in human consciousness. Along with this brilliant honor, Z is also the winner of the 2020 Richard Rodgers Award, the 2021 Vivace Award, a Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow, 2017 Alumni Residency Writer for #BARS at The Public, and West High’s Funniest Senior. Zeniba is a highly collaborative artist working in a variety of mediums. You can connect with her productions, performances, and releases by visiting her website www.zenibanow.com
Kit Mee Kuen Yan – Lyrics and Book
Kit Yan is a transgender Yellow American New York based artist, born in Enping, China, and raised in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Kit is a 2021 Kleban Prize recipient for Libretto, a 2021 Sundance IDP Fellow and grantee, a Vivace Award recipient for big ideas in musical theater, a former Musical Theater Factory Makers Fellow, Playwright’s Center fellow, Company One/Pao Arts Fellow, Lincoln Center Writer in residence, Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow and MacDowell Fellow. Their films have been shown at OUTfest, CAAMfest, The LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, and The Asian American International Film Festival among many others. Kit’s works include INTERSTATE and MISS STEP two queer and trans musicals written with Melissa Li, and QUEER HEARTACHE a solo show in poetry, among many others. Kit’s forthcoming productions and commissions include work with Playwrights Horizons, OSF, East West Players, and San Diego Repertory Theater. Their work has been supported/produced by the American Repertory Theater, MCC, Keen Company, the Smithsonian, NAMT, Musical Theater Factory, the New York Musical Festival, Mixed Blood, and Diversionary Theater. https://kityanpoet.com/