New Program Established to Encourage Outstanding Musical Theater Students

In recognition of Kurt Weill’s contribution to the musical theater, and to encourage the high standards of singing and acting which his works demand, the Board of Trustees of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music has established the Kurt Weill Award in Performance. In the program’s inaugural year, Kurt Weill Awards in Performance have been presented to an outstanding senior student in the Musical Theater program at each of the following four universities: University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The award winners were selected by the faculties of their universities’ musical theater programs; each winner received a check for $5,000 from the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. Criteria for selection included exceptional talent in both singing and acting, along with the focus and determination necessary to establish a career in performance. The 2008 winners, all of whom will graduate in 2009 from their respective universities, follow:

  • University of Michigan: Ashley Blanchet (New Rochelle, NY)
  • University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music: Kaitlyn Davidson (Overland Park, KS)
  • Carnegie Mellon University: Laura Mixon (Pensacola, FL)
  • New York University: Emily Cramer (Winthrop, MA)

One of the most versatile, imaginative, and influential theater composers of the twentieth century, Kurt Weill created works including The Threepenny Opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, The Seven Deadly Sins, Lady in the Dark, One Touch of Venus, and Street Scene, spanning the genres of opera, ballet, and Broadway musicals. The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc. administers, promotes, and perpetuates the legacies of Kurt Weill and his wife, singer/actress Lotte Lenya. It encourages broad dissemination and appreciation of Weill’s music through support of performances, productions, recordings, and scholarship; it fosters understanding of Weill’s and Lenya’s lives and work within diverse cultural contexts; and, building upon the legacies of both, it nurtures talent, particularly in the creation, performance, and study of musical theater in its various manifestations and media.

Biographies of winners:

Ashley Blanchet is a senior pursuing a B.F.A. Degree in Musical Theatre at The University of Michigan. Her Michigan credits include Seussical The Musical, The Pajama Game, The Who’s Tommy, Carousel, A Good Boy (premiere), and Big River. This fall she played Mimi in the University’s production of Rent. Ms. Blanchet spent the past summer working at The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, playing Rosalia in West Side Story, and performing in the ensembles of Mame and Annie Get Your Gun. She has been in many productions at The West Virginia Public Theatre, performing such roles as Diana Morales in A Chorus Line and The Mistress in Evita. Ms. Blanchet is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Emily Cramer is a CAP21 senior at New York University, scheduled to graduate in May of 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre Performance. Originally from Winthrop, MA and now living in Brooklyn, she has been training and performing for about thirteen years. She spent this past summer interning as a member of the second company at the Peterborough Players in New Hampshire. Some of Emily’s favorite roles include Pennywise in Urinetown, Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Mae in Lachiusa’s version of The Wild Party, and The Witch in Into The Woods.

Kaitlyn Davidson is currently completing her BFA in musical theatre at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. At CCM, she has been seen in Crazy For You, The Pajama Game, Cabaret, Wonderful Town (Eileen), and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Rosemary). She has performed with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera as Gloria Upson in Mame (with Michelle Lee) and also served as assistant choreographer and dance captain for the production. At CLO, she also played Velma in West Side Story, Victoria in Cats and Estelle in The Full Monty. Kaitlyn has been seen at Music Theatre of Wichita as Kristine in A Chorus Line and Alice in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. Other credits include the world premiere of The Prince and the Pauper (Lady Jane) at Kansas City Starlight Theatre, the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, and the Ordway in St. Paul. She appeared in The Magical Music of Disney with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra (Erich Kunzel, conductor) and was heard as the voice of Nikki the Lamb in the cartoon DVD Farkleberry Farm.

Laura Mixon is a senior musical theatre major with a double emphasis in acting at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama. Favorite roles at Carnegie Mellon include Lily in See What I Wanna See; Martine in Moliere’s Sgnaralle or the Imaginary Cuckold, General Cartwright in Guys and Dolls (directed by Steve Cosson), Princess Eboli in Don Carlos, the Witch in Into the Woods (directed by Kent Gash), and Peggy in The London Cuckolds. This summer she had her professional debut working at Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre in the John Millington Synge cycle as Sara Tansey (The Playboy of the Western World); Molly Byrne (The Well of the Saints); and Nora (Riders to the Sea). Laura recently worked with Scott Schwartz, Cinco Paul, and Ken Dario on the new musical, Bubble Boy, with the ASCAP/CLO/CMU New Works Project (produced by Stephen Schwartz). She was also a tap dancing Tina Denmark in the musical Ruthless on Martha’s Vineyard (The Island Theatre Workshop). She will graduate magna cum laude, and she has been awarded the Thomas Auclair Memorial Award for excellent contribution to the School of Drama.