Plays include Missing Persons, Blue Window, Reckless, God’s Heart, The Dying Gaul, Stranger and Small Tragedy. Screenplays include Longtime Companion (SundanceAudienceAward), The Secret Lives of Dentists (NY Film Critics Best Screenplay), Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless and The Dying Gaul, which he also directed. Onstage he directed Harry Kondoleon’s plays Saved or Destroyed (Obie Award for Best Director) and Play Yourself, as well as his own play This Thing of Darkness (coauthored with David Schulner). Twice nominated for a Tony (Prelude to a Kiss and for his book to The Light in the Piazza), he won the American Theater Critics Award for Best American Play (The Singing Forest), the L.A. Drama Critics Award, the Hull-Warriner Award, the LAMBDA Literary Award, the Flora Roberts Award, the Excellence in Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Laura Pels/PEN Award; and he has twice won the Obie for Best Play (Prelude to a Kiss and Small Tragedy). (As of November 2008)
Carnelia started his career in theatre as an actor. He played The Boy (Matt) in the Off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks. He left the production to pursue songwriting and musical theatre composition. His songs were first heard, along with the work of other writers, in Working. He then wrote the full score for the Broadway musical is there life after high school. After high school, he composed the score of Three Postcards, which, in addition to being produced at Playwrights Horizons, was revived at the Circle Repetory Theater. He played Bill in the PH production of Three Postcards. Carnelia went on to collaborate with Marvin Hamlisch on Sweet Smell of Success. He also wrote songs for Nora Ephron's play Imaginary Friends.
Throughout his career, Carnelia has been nominated for and has won several awards. He has been nominated for three Tony Awards and two Drama Desk Awards. He has won the Johnny Mercer Award, the Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theater Award, and the Kleban Award.