The Kleban Prize in Musical Theatre

About the Kleban Prize

Edward Kleban, the lyricist of A Chorus Line and other extraordinary works, created the Kleban Prize in his Will, which is given annually to writers of extraordinary promise – to a librettist and a lyricist, respectively. Kleban designed the prize based on his personal experience as a promising writer. He was acutely aware that, though composers and musicians may often work within the theater, lyricists and librettists generally have to work outside the theater in order to support their writing. He wanted a prize of sufficient size to allow promising writers the time to simply write; his creation of the prize flowed from his desire to help other worthy artists like himself.

Ed Kleban

The prize is administered by New Dramatists on behalf of the The Kleban Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors. To ensure a robust and equitable adjudication, applications (including work samples) are submitted and reviewed blind by an independent panel of musical theatre artists and industry leaders. The Kleban Foundation Board sets the amount of the Prize annually. In recent years, a sum of $100,000 in each category has been paid in two annual installments to Prize recipients.


Kleban’s instructions, as interpreted by the Board, specify that applicants must meet either of the following criteria: 1) The applicant must previously have received a production of one of their works on a stage or in a workshop performance; or 2) The applicant must be or have been a member or an associate of a professional musical workshop or theater group, i.e., ASCAP, BMI Theater Workshop or the Dramatists Guild Fellows Program.

  • Any individual whose work has been performed on the Broadway stage for a cumulative period of two years prior to the opening of the application window is not eligible. In the case of multiple Broadway productions, the sum of the lengths of the runs must not exceed two years.
  • If the material is co-written (written by more than one lyricist or more than one librettist) all writers must apply as a team. (This does not include the composer unless s/he has also contributed lyrics or text.) Each applicant must be eligible in their own right to apply.
  • Applicants may apply in both categories, but must submit a separate application for each category and may win in only one such category.
  • Applicants may only apply once per category per year.
  • Applicants may win in only one category.


Application Materials

Submissions are coded and reviewed blind. The name(s) of the writer(s) must NOT appear on any submission materials, including in the file names or file author information. Do NOT include hyperlinks in your files. Failure to meet this requirement may render the applicant ineligible. Only work from musical theater will be considered. Materials must be in English.

Lyricist Category

  • Submissions must include lyrics for a minimum of five and a maximum of eight songs.
  • The lyrics may be from one or various shows.
  • Audio files/recordings of each song are strongly encouraged but are not necessary. Acceptable formats are mp3, ogg, and wav.


Librettist Category

  • Submissions may consist of a full-length musical book, or one act from two separate shows.
  • Lyrics should be included in the libretto even if they were written by someone other than the librettist.
  • Submission files must be in either word or PDF formats. Audio files are not accepted in the librettist category.

Application Step-by-Step

NEW APPLICANTS: Click on the “Begin Your Kleban Prize Application” button below. You will be prompted to register with your email address and password.

RETURN APPLICANTS: If you applied in the last 3 years, you should have an existing account. Please begin by logging into the site at the top right of your screen. (If did not apply in the last 3 years but you applied in years prior, proceed as if you are a new applicant.)

From this point forward, you will be guided through a simple process collecting all of your admissions materials in five easy steps. You may return to your application at any point until you submit:

1. Click "My Account" or log in at the top right of your screen. Choose the button for the category in which you are applying.

2. You will be asked to confirm you are eligible to apply. In the text field you must provide details substantiating your eligibility. Optionally, upload a resumé.

3. Fill in your full name, address, phone number and email address. To add another author, click the ‘Add another Author’ button at the bottom of the form and fill in their full name, address, phone number and email address. For any additional authors, click the ‘Add another Author’ button for each and fill in their contact information.

4. For a Lyricist application, please note, the form has changed. Instead of uploading a single text document with all of your lyrics, you will be asked to enter or copy-and-paste the lyrics and the context for each song into a separate field. You will have the option to upload audio files for each song. For a Librettist application, upload your Musical text file. If you are submitting two acts from separate musicals they must be combined into one file.

5. Review your application, check the box that you have read and agree to our Privacy Policy, and click “Submit Your Application” to complete the process. You will receive an email confirming your application has been received.

If you are applying in a second category, make sure you are logged into the site and click on the "My Account" link (at the top right of any page on the New Dramatists website) and you should see a button to start your application in the second category.