The American Academy of Arts and Letters have announced the 2022 winners of the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater. Both Driving in Circles by Jay Eddy and Perpetual Sunshine & The Ghost Girls by Sara Cooper and Lynne Shankel have received Staged Reading awards.
The Richard Rodgers Awards were created and endowed by trailblazing Broadway composer Richard Rodgers in 1978 to foster new development in the musical theatre. These awards subsidize composers and playwrights in order to nurture talent not yet established in the New York theatre industry.
Driving in Circles is an autobiographical exploration of childhood sexual abuse and the aftershocks that wrack a survivor, set to a folktronica score. Personal relationships, mental and physical health, and an individual's sense of self are interrogated along the journey from trauma to what could be described as happiness.
Perpetual Sunshine & The Ghost Girls is a through-composed musical centered on the exploitation of workers in the face of a national health crisis. The score combines the aesthetics of 1920's and 2020's music to tell the story of the women who changed the face of American labor laws after being poisoned on the job by the United States Radium Corporation.
Former recipients of the Richard Rodgers Award include Rent by Jonathan Larson, Lucky Stiff by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, In The Green by Grace McLean, Violet by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley, Grey Gardens by Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, and Dough Wright, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 by Dave Malloy, and Hadestown by Anaïs Mitchell.
The members of this year's selection jury were David Lang, Lynn Ahrens, Kristoffer Diaz, Mindi Dickstein, Amanda Green, Michael R. Jackson, Richard Maltby Jr., and John Weidman.