Ryan Scott Oliver and librettist Ethan Lipton have been named as winners of the 33rd Annual Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre by The Kleban Foundation. Each winner receives $100, 000.

Past winners have included Jason Robert Brown (ParadeThe Last Five Years), John Bucchino (A Catered AffairIt’s Only Life), Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), Michael John LaChiusa (Giant, See What I Wanna SeeThe Wild Party), and John Weidman (Pacific OverturesRoad ShowAssassins).

See the Playbill announcement here.


From the article written by Ruthie Fierberg

Award-winning composer-lyricist Ryan Scott Oliver is working on a new musical framed around a notorious event involving Truman Capote. Titled “Party of the Century,” the musical is sourced from the book of the same name by Deborah Davis. 

“It’s based on Truman Capote’s infamous Black and White Ball at the Plaza in 1966 and full of queerness and betrayal and murder — it was kind of crazy,” Oliver told Broadway News at the ceremony celebrating him as the winner of the 2023 Kleban Prize for Most Promising Musical Theatre Lyricist. Oliver has just started writing “Party of the Century” with book writer Kirsten Guenther. The two previously collaborated on the musical “Mrs. Sharp.”

Oliver and Guenther are developing the piece with the support of FourthWall Theatrical, which acquired the rights to Davis’ book. According to Oliver, the musical “has a Broadway trajectory.” Fourth Wall, consisting of partners Jana Bezdek and Jen Hoguet, was a part of the producing team for Broadway’s “Jagged Little Pill.”

Though Oliver’s work has not yet been produced on Broadway, his name is well-known in musical-theater circles. In addition to the Kleban Prize, he previously earned a Jonathan Larson Grant, Richard Rodgers Award and multiple honors from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Oliver’s select works include “35mm,” “Jasper in Deadland” and “We Foxes.”

The combination of the Kleban Prize, “Party of the Century” and a few other commissions has been reinvigorating, said Oliver. “I was very lucky to have a lot of success really early, and then it was sort of existing for a few years, and I really did feel that,” he said. “I told Richard Maltby [Jr.]: I feel like I’m back on the freeway.”


Following his southern Gothic thriller We Foxes, RSO’s at work on another dark-sided project: Tomorrow, the Island Dies, for which he wrote book, music and lyrics. The show is a commission by Samford University.

In the vein of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King, the original musical tells the story of Widow Clack, 18 and pregnant, who lives an exiled life running a lighthouse with her brother on a storm-crushed island set to be uninhabited in two days. When a young man is found dead on the beach, the remaining collection of young adults (left to make final preparations for the abandonment) combust into dangerous accusations leading to devastating division and ultimately, death. When a final, unexpected storm impacts the island, can Widow save the villagers from themselves?

The show is set for a developmental production in the spring of 2024, and an EP of msuic from the show, Haverness Songs, will be released later this year. a commission by Samford University called

‘NOTES FROM NOW’ premieres Off-Broadway feat. RSO music

The new musical anthology Notes From Now, bringing together songwriters from Broadway and beyond—including the premiere of a new RSO song, “Mount Beacon”—will begin previews March 2 at 59E59 Theaters with an official opening March 10.

Directed and choreographed by Billy Bustamante, the limited engagement will continue Off-Broadway through March 20.

Prospect Theater Company Announces 'Notes From Now' Show Dates - Variety

Also contributing newly commissioned original songs are Jay Adana, Troy Anthony, Masi AsareJeff Blumenkrantz, Georgie Castilla and Jaime Lozano, Gretchen Cryer, Tia DeShazor and Derrick Byars, Alexandra Elle and Stephen SchwartzAdam GwonDouglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar, Peter Mills, Michelle Rodriguez, Angela Sclafani, Paulo K Tiról, and Amanda Yesnowitz and Deborah Abramson. Casting will be announced at a later date.

Sean Peter Forte serves as music director for the production, which offers a musical reflection of our contemporary world. Macy Schmidt is the orchestrator.

“In these continued challenging times for the theatre community, Prospect is excited and grateful to return to 59E59 Theaters with a new, collectively-written show,” said Notes From Now curator and creative producer Cara Reichel. “Connecting so many powerful, artistic voices with audiences—and engaging around the times we are living through—feels especially meaningful.”


PAST DEMONS Now Streaming Everywhere

Past Demons, an album of songs based on tales by acclaimed 1950s psychological horror author Shirley Jackson, composed by RSO with words by Jackson and Oliver is available now (Jan. 25) via Spotify, Apple Music, and all streaming platforms.




Among the stories included in the spooky collection of stories:

  • In “Louisa, Please Come Home,” Louisa runs away from home, hoping to become someone new. Little does she know, some dreams come true…
  • In “Remembrance of Things Past,” a woman wakes one more to realize she’s forgotten her husband’s name.
  • In “6 A.M. is the Hour,” a man falls into an alternate dimension and discovers three gods playing poker. The stakes? The fate of the human race.

Jackson’s work was the basis of the hit Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House and the classic Robert Wise-directed film The Haunting. She is also the author of the iconic  short story “The Lottery,”  and was the subject of the recent film Shirley, executive produced by Martin Scorsese and starring Elisabeth Moss.

Past Demons features an impressive line-up of theater stars including (in alphabetical order) Jessie Hooker-Bailey, Caitlin Doak, Eleri Ward, Daniel Yearwood and Eric Ulloa, with Ethan Carlson, Nicole DeLuca and Miranda Luze.

The Band features Joshua Zecher-Ross on synths, keyboards and  auxiliary instrruments, Felix Herbst on violins, Allison Seidner on cello, Andrew Zinsmeister on guitars, banjo and mandolin, Yuka Tadano on bass, and Sean McDaniel on drums/percussion. The album is produced by Zecher-Ross and Oliver (JZRSO Studios), and orchestrations by RSO.

The track list is as follows:

1: “The Real Me” — Jessie Hooker-Bailey

2: “Louisa, Please Come Home” — Caitlin Doak, with Ethan Carlson, Nicole DeLuca, and Miranda Luze

3: “Remembrance of Things Past” — Eleri Ward

4: “6 A.M. is the Hour” — Daniel Yearwood

5: “Jack the Ripper” — Eric Ulloa

SHIRLEY JACKSON was born in 1916 in San Franciscco and later moved to Burlingame. At university in Syracuse, she met her husband, the future literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, with whom she had four children. In 1948 she published her iconic short story “The Lottery” in The New Yorker, sparking furious letters from readers to the magazine. Her novels —— most of which involve elements of horror and the occult —— include The Road Through the Wall, Hangsaman, The Bird’s Nest, The Sundial, We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House. Her short story collections include The Lottery and Other Stories, Come Along with Me, Just an Ordinary Day and Let Me Tell You. Shirley Jackson died in her sleep in 1965 at the age of 48.