American Theatre Wing Announces Recipients of 2019 Jonathan Larson Grants


The American Theatre Wing announced the 2019 Jonathan Larson Grants recipients are Julia Gytri& Avi Amon (book, music and lyrics), Emily Gardner Xu Hall (book, music and lyrics), Andy Roninson (music and lyrics), and Ben Wexler (music and lyrics). Four prestigious grants of $10,000 each, as well as additional support in the form of residencies, concerts, and recording grants, totaling over $50,000, will be presented on Monday, March 19, 2018 at a private event at the WNYC Greene Space. The event will feature special performances of the recipients’ work.

This year’s recipients were selected by an expert panel consisting of Music Director/Arranger/Composer Annastasia Victory (Once On This Island, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope), Music Director/Arranger/Writer Jason Michael Webb (Choir Boy,The Color Purple) and Producer Alia Jones-Harvey (Ain’t Too Proud – The Life And Times Of The Temptations, American Son).

“The Jonathan Larson Grants are one of the annual highlights at the Wing. The young artists we have selected this year represent the next generation of theater makers, helping to shape our cultural dialogue for years to come. Along with our Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative and the National Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge, these Jonathan Larson Grants demonstrate our serious commitment to developing and nurturing courageous, bold new voices in the industry,” said Heather Hitchens, President and CEO of the American Theatre Wing.

The Jonathan Larson Grants, given annually to honor emerging composers, lyricists and book writers, help to continue Tony Award-winning composer Jonathan Larson’s dream of infusing musical theatre with a contemporary, joyful, urban vitality. Dedicated to celebrating excellence and supporting theatre, the American Theatre Wing awards the Larson Grants to artists to recognize and showcase their work with no strings attached – except to put it to the best use possible to help further the artists’ creative endeavors.

The American Theatre Wing is dedicated to offering Jonathan Larson Grant recipients additional industry resources to advance their work.

All four 2019 Jonathan Larson Grants recipients will also receive a $2,500 Saw Island Foundation Recording Grant. The Saw Island Foundation seeks to empower innovative and high-impact institutions to improve existing programs; it has created this enhancement to provide artists with additional support to help arrange for the production of new demo recordings to more fully represent the musical theater writer’s vision.

Emily Gardner Xu Hall will be receiving a fully produced reading of her show via the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University.

Additionally, Adelphi University Performing Arts Center is awarding Andy Roninson and Julia Gytri & Avi Amon with an evening of performance featuring their work as part of their Larson Legacy Concert Series, which celebrates the next generation of creative artists at the college home of Jonathan Larson, class of ’82, to carry on his legacy.

Past recipients of the Larson Grants include Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, The Greatest Showman), Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody), Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), Joe Iconis (Be More Chill), Matt Gould (Witness Uganda), Michael Korie (War Paint, Grey Gardens), Shaina Taub (Twelfth Night), Max Vernon (KPOP, The View UpStairs), and Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop).


Julia Gytri is a Brooklyn-based writer. Her theatrical works include Blind (National Asian Artists Project 2013, with Yan Li), Salonika (The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, with Avi Amon), and The White City (O’Neill National Music Theatre Conference 2014, Richard Rogers Award Finalist 2015, Musical Theatre Factory New Orchestrations 2015, Yale Institute 2016). Julia has enjoyed artistic residencies at The Weston Playhouse (2016, 2018) and had works performed at Lincoln Center, 54 Below, The Prospect Theatre, and universities across the country. Current projects include two novels: This is the Universal Sign for Choking and The Ghost Says “Boo”: A Lawson Family Chrstmas, as well as a new play, The Grand Mosque at Abu Dhabi. When Julia’s not working on theatre or fiction, she writes everything from educational music for kids to marketing materials in her current role as Head of Brand Content + Communication for a New York-based sports nutrition company.

Avi Amon is a composer, sound artist, and educator. His music has been heard at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Ars Nova, Atlantic Theater, BAM, Drama League, Edinburgh Fringe, Exponential Festival, JACK, Juilliard, Lincoln Center, La Mama, Prospect Theater, and Spoleto Festival USA, among others. With Julia Gytri he has developed Salonika (Berkeley REP Ground Floor) and The White City (Yale Institute, O’Neill NMTC, Richard Rogers Award Finalist). Other credits include: Rated Black with Kareem Lucas (New York Theater Workshop), Jeune Terre with Gabrielle Reisman (Playwrights Center), and several sound installations in a 100-year old grain silo in Buffalo, NY. In development: Inshallah/Mashallah, a 3-D audio opera (Target Margin Theater), Paul Swan is Dead and Gone with Claire Kiechel (Civilians), and The Black History Museum with Zoey Martinson(HERE Arts Center). He has been in-residence with Exploring the Metropolis at JCAL, Hi-ARTS, Judson, New Dramatists, Target Margin, Weston Playhouse, and Yale. Avi is the resident composer at the 52nd Street Project and teaches at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Emily Gardner Xu Hall is a composer-lyricist, playwright and actor whose writing focuses on feminist perspectives inclusive to people of color. For her musical theatre writing, she won the “Go Write a Musical” Lilly Award for a Female Composer-Lyricist with supervision from Broadway producer Stacey Mindich. Book/music/lyrics (adaptations): Untitled Cherry Orchard Musical (Musical Theatre Factory), Cymbeline. Book/music/lyrics (original): I am This for You (Ars Nova ANT Fest), Nascent Phase (Bushwick Starr). Collaborations (musicals and plays) include Nomad Motel (with Carla Ching, Atlantic Theatre Company), Black Is Beautiful… (with Kareem M. Lucas, Public Theater Under the Radar Festival), The Cardinal (with Cusi Cram, Cornerstone Theatre Company), Ruth Bader Ginsberg Project (with Dianne Nora, Goodman Theatre). She has developed work at Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, New York SongSpace, CATWALK residency, and is an alum of New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio and a member of the BMI workshop. BA Music and English, Wellesley College; MFA, NYU Graduate Acting Program.Andy Roninson:

Andy Roninson is a composer-lyricist, orchestrator, and music director in NYC. As a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, he was awarded the Robert B. Sherman Scholarship and the Jerry Harrington Award for Creative Excellence. He participated in the 2017 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project. He is the creator and host of “TAKE A TEN,” the all-original ten-minute musical podcast. Episodes have had live productions at theaters and schools around the world and have won numerous awards including Best Musical (2x) at Theatre Now New York’s SOUND BITES festival, the 2016 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting, and the top prize at the 40th Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival, which included publication by Samuel French. Recorded episodes featured the voice talents of Tony-nominees Laura Osnes and Rob McClure as well as Broadway and NYC actors like George Salazar, Nick Blaemire, and more.

Ben Wexler is a composer, lyricist and teaching artist. Music and lyrics: Washington Square (book, Kirsten Childs), and The Orchestra (Whitman/Grove Theatricals commission); music for Ship Show (Yale Institute), Speech and Debate (Sycamore Pictures) and The Insurgents (LAByrinth). Ben is the Artistic Director of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, which merges Broadway Artists, justice-oriented organizations, and policy experts. Projects include collaborations with New York City Council, Alliance for Quality Education, and Columbia Law School, where he is an adjunct lecturer. Ben is resident composer for A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program founded by Idina Menzel and Jeanine Tesori. Ben served as the associate to Ms. Tesori for Encores: Off-Center and Fun Home, Violet, and Sunday In The Park With George, all on Broadway. Ben has trained through New Dramatists, BMI (Harrington Award, 2013) and was a 2014-15 Dramatists Guild Fellow. B.A: Yale.

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