Customer Service available Mon - Fri 9am to 6pm EST


Samuel French will honor some of the theatre community's most respected artists, activists and rising stars on October 16th when they bestow the Samuel French Awards in a private reception. This year's recipients are listed below. To learn more about them and their work, be sure to read our Samuel French Awards series on Breaking Character Magazine.

Award for Sustained Excellence in American Theatre

Presented by Emily Mann, Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre Center
This award is bestowed upon a Samuel French playwright, composer or lyricist whose body of work has been successfully produced across the nation, at both amateur and professional levels. In addition to the award, a donation will be made to the McCarter Theatre on behalf of Mr. Ludwig.

Award for Impact & Activism in the Theatre Community
Presented by Kamilah Forbes, Executive Producer of the Apollo Theater
Given to an individual who has significantly impacted the theatre community through activism in the past year. In addition to the award, a donation will be made to the Detroit Public Theatre on behalf of Ms. Morisseau.

The Next Step Award
Presented by Jeanine Tesori
This award celebrates and supports playwrights, composers or lyricists toward the next step of their career. The award recognizes artists who have demonstrated strong energy and talent in their career thus far, and offers support for a current or shelved project.

About the Honorees

Ken Ludwig

Dominique Morisseau

Chris Miller

Nathan Tysen


is a two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright whose work is performed throughout the world in more than thirty countries and over twenty languages. He has written twenty-four plays and musicals, with six Broadway productions and seven in London's West End. His Tony-winning play Lend Me A Tenor, was called "one of the classic comedies of the 20th century" by The Washington Post. Other plays and musicals include Crazy For You (5 years on Broadway, Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical), Moon Over Buffalo (Broadway and West End), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Broadway), Treasure Island West End), Twentieth Century (Broadway), Leading Ladies, Shakespeare in Hollywood, The Game's Afoot, The Fox on the Fairway, The Three Musketeers, The Beaux' Stratagem, Baskerville and A Comedy of Tenors. His critically acclaimed adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express premiered this season to sold out houses at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton and his newest play, Robin Hood!, premiered in August at The Old Globe. He has received commissions from the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Old Globe and the Bristol Old Vic, and he is a Sallie B. Goodman Fellow of the McCarter Theatre. His many awards and honors include the Charles MacArthur Award, two Helen Hayes Awards, the SETC Distinguished Career Award, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery and the Edwin Forrest Award for Contributions to the American Theater. His book How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare (Random House) won the Falstaff Award for Best Shakespeare Book and his essays are published by the Yale Review. Ken's plays and musicals are produced somewhere in the United States and abroad every night of the year.


is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Williamstown Theatre Festival), and Detroit '67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie's (Premiere Stages). She is the book writer on the new musical Ain't Too Proud - The Temptations premiering at Berkeley Rep this fall. Dominique is alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer's Group, Women's Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab and Eugene O'Neil Playwrights Conference. Her work has been commissioned by the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Women's Project, South Coast Rep, People's Light and Theatre, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Penumbra Theatre. She currently serves as Co-Producer on the Showtime series Shameless. Awards: Stavis Playwriting Award, NAACP Image Award, Spirit of Detroit Award, Weissberger Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper New American Play Prize, TEER Spirit Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama (Detroit '67), Audelco and OBIE Award (Skeleton Crew).

CHRIS MILLER (music) & NATHAN TYSEN (lyrics) 

are the songwriting team behind the critically acclaimed Broadway musical Tuck Everlasting (Outer Critics & Drama League nominations, Best Musical). Their off-Broadway work includes The Burnt Part Boys (Lucille Lortel Nomination, Best Musical) and Fugitive Songs (Drama Desk Award Nomination, Outstanding Revue), all of which are available for licensing, and have cast albums on iTunes and Amazon. Current projects include commissions from Lincoln Center Theater and Playwrights Horizons/Theatreworks Silicon Valley. They have also written two circuses for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey, contributed to the revue Stars of David, and penned an adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg's picture book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Boston Globe Top Ten Pick of 2008). Television work includes songs for Sesame Street (2012 Daytime Emmy Award) and The Electric Company. Chris and Nathan are proud recipients of awards and grants from Fred Ebb, Edward Kleban, Jonathan Larson, Richard Rodgers, Daryl Roth, Kitty Carlisle Hart, ASCAP, and the NEA. They began their collaboration at NYU where they received their MFA's in musical theatre writing. www.MILLERandTYSEN.com

Special Honorees


Under the leadership of Artistic Director Emily Mann and Managing Director Timothy Shields, the Tony Award® winning McCarter Theatre Center is one of America’s leading regional theaters and is the only organization in this country that is a professional producing theater while simultaneously presenting major performing artists. World premiere plays include Vanya and Soniaand Masha and Spike(2013 Tony Award® - Best Play), Miss Witherspoon; The Brother/Sister Plays; Me, Myself & I; Having Our Say; and The Convert. Other notable plays include Broadway productions of Translations; Anna in the Tropics(Pulitzer Prize); and Electra.

McCarter presents artists such as Lang Lang, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Wynton Marsalis, David Sedaris and more. Our education/outreach efforts serve tens of thousands through student matinees, in-school residencies, and adult education classes. McCarter is supported by Princeton University, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, many corporations and foundations, and by over 3,000 individual donors. Discover more at www.mccarter.org.


Detroit Public Theatre has been producing plays and programs with world-class writers, directors, actors and designers in the heart of Midtown Detroit's thriving cultural district since the Fall of 2015. DPT invites Detroit audiences to exprience bold plays that illuminate the thrills, joys and challenges of our shared human experience.

In just two full seasons Detroit Public Theatre has forged relationships with some of the most exciting new voices in American theatre - artists like Dominique Morriseau, Noah Haidle, and Coleman Domingo. Morriseau and Haidle serve on the DPT board of directors. DPT also proudly works in partnerships with some of Detroit's largest cultural institutions, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The DSO's Max M. Fisher Music Center is the home to DPT's mainstage season.

After co-producing Dominique Morriseau’s Detroit '67 with Baltimore Center Stage in the the inaugural season, Detroit Public Theatre DPT received a grant from the James L. And John S. Knight Foundation to create a touring production of Detroit '67 to take to Detroit neighborhoods on the 50th anniversary of the events of the play. DPT is proud to open our third season with another powerful and poetic work by Dominique Morisseau Skeleton Crew, the third play in her Detroit Cycle.

In addition to DPT's main stage productions, the theatre's signature community program, Shakespeare in Prison, empowers inmates at Huron Valley Women's Correctional Facility through theatre exercises and Shakespearean text to think creatively, reflect on their pasts, gain insight into themselves and others, and develop crucial life skills to be used both in and out of prison.