Edward "Ed" Kleban (April 30, 1939 – December 28, 1987) was an American musical theatre composer and lyricist. Kleban was born in the Bronx, New York City, in 1939 and graduated from New York's High School of Music & Art and Columbia University, where he attended with future playwright Terrence McNally.[1]

Kleban is best known as lyricist of the Broadway hit A Chorus Line. He and composer Marvin Hamlisch won the 1976 Tony Award for Best Original Score, and he shared the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976 with Hamlisch and three other contributors to the musical. The one-woman Phyllis Newman show, The Madwoman of Central Park West (1979), featured a few tunes with his lyrics.[not verified in body]

For several years, he worked at Columbia Records, where he produced albums by performers as diverse as Igor Stravinsky and Percy Faith,[2] and the albums for the Off-Broadway musicals Now Is The Time For All Good Men and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.[3]

He was a teacher for many years at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.[4]


Kleban died of complications from throat cancer, aged 48, on December 28, 1987 at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York.[4]

Kleban Foundation

In his will, Kleban established the Kleban Foundation, which grants the annual Kleban Prize in Musical Theatre. The prize is given in the amount of $100,000, paid over two years, to the most promising librettist and lyricist in American musical theatre. The awards are administered by BMI in association with New Dramatists and ASCAP.[5][6][7]

The prize has been given to 63 musical theatre artists over the past 27 years, awarding a total of around $5,000,000. Notable Kleban Prize winners include Jason Robert Brown, Steven Lutvak, John Bucchino, Robert Lopez, Adam Gwon, John Weidman, and Robert L. Friedman.[8]

Kleban Prize Winners:[9]

Year Lyricist Librettist Judges
2022[10] César Alvarez Isabella Dawis
2021 Benjamin Scheuer Melissa Li & Kit Yan
2020 Daniel Messé Rehana Lew Mirza & Mike Lew
2019[11] Sarah Hammond / Shaina Taub (TIE) Charlie Sohne Alison Fraser, Amanda Green, Eric Schaeffer
2018[12] Alan Schmuckler / Amanda Yesnowitz (TIE) Christian Duhamel Marin Mazzie, Dave Malloy, Laurence Maslon
2017[8] Daniel Zaitchik Lisa Kron Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, Mary Testa, Ira Weitzman
2016[13] Stacey Luftig Daniel Goldstein Judith Ivey, Michael Price, Andrew Zerman
2015[14] Sam Willmott Sam Carner Kerry Butler, Wiley Hausam, David Shire
2014[15] Nathan Tysen Arthur Perlman Jason Danieley, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Bill Rosenfield
2013[16] Daniel Maté Alan Gordon Sean Hartley, Henry Krieger, Michele Pawk
2012[17] Marcy Heisler Andrew Gerle / Matt Schatz (TIE) Marshall Brickman, Ted Chapin, Debra Monk
2011 Adam Gwon Michelle Elliott Stephen Flaherty, Michael Korie, David Zippel
2010 Peter Mills Barry Wyner Craig Carnelia, Susan Drury, Jeffrey Sweet
2009 Beth Falcone Kait Kerrigan Sheldon Harnick, Thomas Z. Shepard, Sherman Yellen
2008 David Lindsay-Abaire Laura Harrington / Bill Solly and Donald Ward (TIE) Beth Blickers, Linda Kline, Gilbert Parker
2007 Joe Iconis Jeremy Desmon Rick Elice, Carol Hall, Charles Koppelman
2006 Alison Louise Hubbard / Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak (TIE) Laurence Holzman and Felicia Needleman Cheryl L. Davis, Susan Drury, Ken Stone
2005 David Javerbaum Cheryl L. Davis and Ken Stone (TIE) Julia Jordan, Michael John LaChiusa, Jeffrey Sweet
2004 Laurence O'Keefe Julia Jordan Susan DiLallo, Bill Goldstein, Lonny Price
2003 Nell Benjamin Susan DiLallo Arthur Kopit, Charles Leipart, Frank Wildhorn
2002 Jason Robert Brown Lori McKelvey Jerome Coopersmith, Marvin Hamlisch, Marsha Norman
2001 John Bucchino and Patrick Cook Charles Leipart Nan Knighton, Michael John LaChiusa, Glenn Slater
2000 Marion Adler, Chad Beguelin, Robert Lopez / Jeff Marx and David Spencer (TIE) Stephen Cole Fred Ebb, Henry Krieger, William Russell
1999 Kirsten Childs Michael John LaChiusa Lynn Ahrens, John Jiler, John Kander
1998 Sarah Schlesinger Lissa Levin / Luis Santiero (TIE) Ellen Fitzhugh, John Morris, John Weidman
1997 Michael Korie Brian Crawley Martin Charnin, James Freydberg, David Shire
1996 Glenn Slater John Weidman Carol Hall, William Finn, Jonathan Tunick
1995 Mark Waldrop John Jiler Sheldon Harnick, Charles Strouse, Wendy Wasserstein
1994 Joe Keenan / Jim Morgan (TIE) William Strzempek Susan Birkenhead, Craig Carnelia, Jack Viertel
1993 Barry Kleinbort Lanie Robertson Jerry Bock, Betty Comden, Gretchen Cryer
1992 Craig Carnelia Lee Adams, Mary Rodgers, Stephen Schwartz
1991 Mark Campbell Gretchen Cryer Jerry Herman, Stephen Sondheim, Joseph Stein

A Class Act

His will also granted rights to his collection of unpublished songs to friends Avery Corman and Wendy Wasserstein with the request that they incorporate them into a new musical. Their attempts failed and the rights reverted to Kleban's longtime companion, librettist Linda Kline. Kline sought someone who did not know or work with Kleban, but who would learn about him through the material. She admired previous work of Lonny Price and sought him as a collaborator.[1][2]

After six years of work, with Price and Kline as co-authors, Price directed and played the role of Ed in A Class Act, a musical biography of Kleban with a score consisting of songs he wrote for numerous unproduced musicals. After a two-month run at the Manhattan Theatre Club, it transferred to the Ambassador Theatre on March 10, 2001 and ran for three additional months. Almost 14 years after his death, Kleban earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Original Score and Drama Desk nominations for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics.[18][19]


  1. ^ a b David Kaufman (March 11, 2001). "His Lyrics Made It to Broadway, Now His Songs". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  2. ^ a b "Looking at Ed Kleban, Broadway songwriter, and A Class Act, the musical about his life". Weekend Edition Saturday. 10 March 2001. NPR. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  3. ^ "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris". Masterworks Broadway. Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Edward Kleban, 48, 'Chorus Line' Lyricist". New York Times. December 30, 1987. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  5. ^ "Kleban Awards". bmi.com. 6 June 2001. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  6. ^ Andrew Gans (1 May 2008). "Lindsay-Abaire Snags Kleban Award for Lyrics; Harrington, Solly and Ward Also Honored". Playbill. playbill.com. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  7. ^ "Awards & Fellowships". New Dramatists. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  8. ^ a b BWW News Desk. "2017 Kleban Prize Winners Announced". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  9. ^ McGibbon, Andrew C. "21st Annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre Winners Announced - The AndyGram". Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  10. ^ "The Kleban Prize in Musical Theatre | New Dramatists". newdramatists.org. Retrieved 2022-04-24.
  11. ^ Gans, Andrew (9 January 2019). "Shaina Taub, Sarah Hammond, Charlie Sohne Named Winners of 29th Annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre". Playbill.
  12. ^ Clement, Olivia (2018-01-09). "3 Musical Theatre Writers Awarded $100,000 Kleban Prize". Playbill.
  13. ^ Robbins, Caryn (2016-01-14). "BREAKING: 2016 Kleban Prize Recipients Announced!". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew (2015-04-14). "Winners of 2015 Ed Kleban Prizes Named". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  15. ^ Rosky, Nicole (2014-05-02). "Nathan Tysen and Arthur Perlman Win 2014 Kleban Prizes for Musical Theatre". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  16. ^ Denette, Kelsey (2013-04-25). "23rd Annual Kleban Prize Winners Announced". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  17. ^ McGibbon, Andrew C. "2012 Kleban Prize Winners Announced - The AndyGram". Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  18. ^ Bruce Weber (12 March 2001). "What a Songwriter Couldn't Do in Life, Friends Have Done". New York Times.
  19. ^ "A Class Act". ibdb.com. Retrieved 2011-03-11.