Edward Kleban (1939-1987) was the lyricist of A Chorus Line, for which he won the 1975 Tony Award, the Pulitzer Prize and the Drama Desk and Olivier Awards. His score for the musical A Class Act, produced posthumously, was nominated for the 2001 Tony and Drama Desk Awards and won an Obie Award. A Class Act is a musical biography of Kleban, with a score comprised of his own music and lyrics. A New York revival is scheduled for February 2022.
Mr. Kleban was a graduate of the High School of Music and Art and of Columbia College, where he wrote the music for the Varsity Show of 1960 with a book by Terrance McNally. Upon graduation from Columbia, Kleban was hired as a record producer by Columbia Records. Throughout the sixties he produced original cast albums while developing his own musicals in Lehman Engel’s BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. Every song that he wrote for A Chorus Line was tested in the BMI Workshop. During the 1980s he carried on Mr. Engel’s tradition and taught songwriting in the workshop.
Mr. Kleban died in December 1987 at the age of 48, after a two-year bout with a cigarette-related cancer. In his will, he created and endowed The Kleban Prize, a unique grant that is bestowed not for a writer’s previous achievements, but for the promise of creativity to come, chosen by a panel of Broadway’s most respected artists. Recipients have gone on to garner four Tony Awards, 30 Tony nominations, 10 Drama Desk Awards and four Obies.
Edward Kleban, Marvin Hamlisch
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