Photos by: Melissa Dispenza
The BMI Foundation has announced Stacey Luftig and Phillip Palmer as the winners of the 2017 Jerry Bock Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre. The $2,000 grant is awarded annually to the lyricist and composer of the most promising musical created in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, a Tony-honored program for new writers of musical theatre. The award was presented at a celebratory luncheon held on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)’s New York City headquarters. Also in attendance was Mr. Bock’s longtime collaborator and award-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick.
This year’s winning work entitled My Heart Is the Drum was inspired by Palmer’s travels to South Africa and Ghana, where he volunteered and studied traditional music. Set in West Africa, Drum chronicles a young woman’s pursuit of education despite adversity and pays tribute to the transformative role of women in modern society worldwide. The winners remarked, “It is an incredible honor to receive this award. Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick are icons of musical theater and heroes for both of us, and also for our bookwriter, Jennie Redling. Thank you to BMI for your support and mentorship over many years."
The Jerry Bock Award was established in 1997 in honor of the late Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning composer Jerry Bock. Mr. Bock’s credits include numerous Broadway classics such as Fiddler On The Roof, Fiorello, She Loves Me, The Rothschilds, The Apple Tree, and Tenderloin. Award finalists are recommended by the Workshop Steering Committee and the winners’ selection overseen by Workshop Director and BMI Foundation Board Member Pat Cook.
About the Winners
Stacey Luftig was awarded the 2016 Kleban Prize and, with composer Phillip Palmer, received the 2015 Fred Ebb Award, both for her lyrics for My Heart Is the Drum (Village Theatre world premiere, 2016). Stacey's lyrics and monologue were featured Off Broadway and on tour in That’s Life (Outer Critics Circle nomination). She wrote book/lyrics for Understood Betsy (Jackie White Memorial National Children's Playwriting Award, National Children's Theatre Festival Award). Story of an Hour, her operetta, premiered with Portland Chamber Orchestra, and her play Jinxed, an O'Neill National Playwrights Conference Finalist, won first place and audience favorite at Dayton Playhouse FutureFest. Stacey has also written animated television episodes for Pinky Dinky Doo, produced by the Sesame Workshop. A five-time fellow of the VirginiaCenter for the Creative Arts (VCCA), she is a member of the BMI Librettists Workshop, ASCAP, and the Dramatists Guild. www.staceyluftig.com
Phillip Palmer is the winner of the 2015 Fred Ebb Award for Musical Theatre Songwriting and a finalist for the 2016 Richard Rodgers Award for My Heart Is the Drum, his first musical. Drum received its world premiere at Village Theatre in 2016, and was developed at Village Theatre, the NAMT Festival of New Musicals, the Goodspeed Writers Retreat, Kent State University, and the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Mr. Palmer wrote the music for The Weatherman (book and lyrics by Alisa Klein Hauser, Clear Space Productions, and Network One-Act Festival). His dance compositions Three Miniatures and Tango have been choreographed and performed at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the ImageMovementSound Festival in Rochester, NY. He graduated from the Eastman School of Music and has studied traditional percussion and choral music in Ghana and South Africa. www.myheartisthedrum.com
About the BMI Foundation
The BMI Foundation is a nonprofit organization, incorporated in the state of New York in February 1984, and dedicated to the creation, performance and study of music, in fields including but not limited to music education, the preservation of the indigenous American jazz form, and the creation and exposure to audiences of contemporary music, particularly in the areas of classical, jazz, and musical theatre. Tax-deductible donations to the Foundation may be made on our website. For exclusive news and content, follow @bmifoundation on Twitter and like “BMI Foundation” on Facebook.