top of page
Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year


Venue: Novello Theatre

Date: 15 May

Host: Julian Ovenden

Opening number: "God!" (Sondheim on Sondheim)

Guest performers: Sophie-Louise Dann, Erin Dougherty

Winner: Courtney Bowman (Guildford School of Acting)

Runner-up: Eleanor Jackson (BOVTS)

Best New Song: "Back to School" by Tim Connor (performed by Ashley Reyes)

Mentorship Prize: The Wicker Husband by Darren Clark and Rhys Jennings

The Guildford School of Acting’s final-year student Courtney Bowman (21) claimed the £1,000 first prize in The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year competition, held at the Novello Theatre on Sunday 15th May. Courtney’s Sondheim song of choice was “Me and My Town”, reprising her role of corrupt Mayoress Cora Hoover from GSA’s production of Anyone Can Whistle in June 2015.

Runner-up was Eleanor Jackson, a final-year student at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, who sang “Sunday in the Park with George” from Sunday in the Park with George and claimed a £500 cheque.

In the Stiles + Drewe Prize – divided into two parts this year – the £1,000 Best New Song award went to Tim Connor’s “Back to School”, and winner of the much-coveted MTI Mentorship award was composer/lyricist Darren Clark and book writer Rhys Jennings for The Wicker Husband. Student Ashley Reyes, who sang Tim’s winning song, also received a £100 bonus prize, courtesy of the Newsome family.

Thanks to all the finalists who took part and helped us deliver a fantastic afternoon of music. Thanks, also, to MD Mark Warman, Director Chris Hocking and Edward Seckerson and his jury.

Click below to watch the 2016 students rehearsing the opening number, "God!", with Chris Hocking at Arts Ed.

The Student Performer of the Year Finalists (in order of performance)

Kirsty Ingram is a third year student on the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre Course at The Arts Educational Schools, London, where she performed the lead role of Ella Peterson in Bells Are Ringing. Kirsty is currently rehearsing for Bugsy Malone at The Lyric, Hammersmith, which she’s extremely excited about. Last year Kirsty was delighted to be a recipient of an Ian Fleming Award. She has recently performed in Shakespeare Live for the RSC. Kirsty is thrilled to be representing her school in the SSSSPOTY competition and is looking forward to performing and supporting new work.

Sondheim: “There Won't be Trumpets” (Anyone Can Whistle)

BNS: “How Did I Get Here?” by Rowland Braché & Richard Voyce

Abigail Fitzgerald is a South Wales-born actress in her final year of actor training at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). She recently took on the part of Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, with her next project becoming musical and assistant director for Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. Abigail is extremely thankful for this opportunity to perform at such an incredible event and is also feeling very proud to be representing LIPA! 

Sondheim: “Moments in the Woods” (Into The Woods)

BNS: “Wallpaper Girl” by Rebecca Applin & Susannah Pearse

Dafydd Gape is a current MA Musical Theatre student at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Credits include Bullfrog/Gilbert Chilvers/Big in Anything Can Happen; Alexander Schmorrell in Kommilitonen (Welsh National Youth Opera); and Roberto Zucco (Chapter Arts). Dafydd is anticipating his end of year production, Cabaret. He is excited to be a part of the SSSSPOTY finals and honoured to be involved. He wishes to thank both the Sondheim Society and Head of Musical Theatre at RWCMD, Vivien Care, for this opportunity.

Sondheim: “Marry Me a Little” (Company)

BNS: “Rivets” by David Perkins, Dominic & Joe Male

Follow Us
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon

Tabitha Tingey is in her final year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She is currently in rehearsals for the Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Rep Season, where she will be appearing in Carousel, Thark, This Happy Breed and Hard Times. Roles while training include Beth in Merrily We Roll Along, Fraulein Kost in Cabaret, Minnie in West Side Story, and Yvonne in Sunshine on Leith. Tabitha is thrilled to be performing and supporting new writing and representing the RCS in the SSSSPOTY competition.

Sondheim: “Color and Light” (Sunday in the Park with George)

BNS: “Little Wooden Horse” by Chris Bush & Matt Winkworth

Adam Small is currently in his third year at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts studying Musical Theatre. Previous to this, Adam completed the Foundation Course in Acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Credits while training include Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me, Kate, Eisenhower/Bess Truman in First Lady Suite, Curly in Oklahoma! and at RADA, and Paul in Stuff I Buried In A Small Town. Adam is currently performing in Jane Eyre at Jackson’s Lane playing Edward Rochester. Other Credits include Beadle Bamford in Sweeney Todd, West End Live (NYMT) and Greek Chorus in A Feast with the Gods (Almeida). He is thrilled to be a SSSSPOTY finalist and would like to thank the Sondheim Society and Mountview for the opportunity.

Sondheim: “Talent” (Road Show)

BNS: “What I’m After” by Roxanne Lamendola

Ashley Reyes was born and raised in New York. She is currently in her final year at LAMDA. She is so excited to be a part of this competition and to be able to perform such amazing pieces of music. .

Sondheim: “Losing My Mind” (Follies)

BNS: “Back to School” by Tim Connor

Callum McGuire is currently in his second year at the Oxford School of Drama. Some of his credits before starting the course include Scott in Beans on Toast, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Banquo in Macbeth, the King of France in Jonathan Miller’s King Lear and Augustus in Cinderella Boom or Bust. Callum has also directed Romeo and Juliet for Cry of Curs at the Cockpit Theatre and runs his own children’s Science company, Einsteins Entertainers, for which he writes and performs Science shows and parties to make learning a bit more fun. 

Sondheim: “Everybody Says Don't” (Anyone Can Whistle)

BNS: “Fly” by Spencer & Shenelle Williams

Lauren Drew is from Port Talbot in South Wales, and is currently in her 3rd year at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts on the Musical Theatre course. Credits whilst training include Blanche Ingram (Jane Eyre), Ruth Sherwood (Wonderful Town), Veronica Douglas (Hoods the Musical) and most recently Paulette Bonafonte (Legally Blonde). Further credits include, Greek Chorus Vocalist (Almeida Gala), Backing Vocalist for Ben Forster and Kerry Ellis (Savoy Charity Gala). Lauren is very grateful to Mountview and to the Sondheim Society for this wonderful opportunity and feels very privileged to have been selected as a finalist. 

Sondheim: “Not A Day Goes By” (Merrily We Roll Along)

BNS: “My Wicker Man” by Darren Clark

Eleanor Jackson is in her final year of actor training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She recently played Cassandra in Sally Cookson’s The Trojan Women at the Bristol Old Vic Studios. In June she will be playing Mrs Marshall in Playhouse Creatures at the Tobacco Factory. Eleanor is extremely excited about this opportunity and grateful for all the support from BOVTS.

Sondheim: “Sunday in the Park with George” (Sunday in the Park with George)

BNS: “More To Life” by James Burn

Emily Day trained at foundation level for one year at Arts Educational School in Musical Theatre and is currently in her second year at Performance Preparation Academy (PPA) in Guildford, studying towards a three year diploma in Musical Theatre. Last Christmas, Emily made her professional debut as the title role in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Radlett Centre) for Upstage Productions. Emily is delighted to have been chosen to represent PPA as one of the 12 finalists this year.

Sondheim: “The Miller's Son” (A Little Night Music)

BNS: “Watchin’ The Door” by Caroline Wigmore

Edward Laurenson is a 27-year-old Baritone from Auckland, New Zealand. As a member of the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus from 2009 to 2014, Edward performed in New Zealand Opera’s seasons of Eugene Onegin, Rigoletto, The Bartered Bride, Madame Butterfly, Die Fliegende Holländer and Don Giovanni. During the period 2012–13 he was a Freemasons Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera and had opportunities to understudy and cover lead roles, as well as perform a minor role in Madame Butterfly. In 2013, Edward won the Guildhall Prize at the IFAC Australian Singing Competition and the NZ Opera Circle 100 Scholarship. In 2014 he placed as a finalist in the New Zealand Lexus Song Quest and won the prestigious Becroft Grand Aria Competition.

Sondheim: “My Friends” (Sweeney Todd)

BNS: “Echoes” by Craig Adams & Andrew Doyle

Courtney Bowman is 21 years old and grew up in Boston, Lincolnshire. She is currently in her final term at the Guildford School Of Acting. She has just finished playing the role of Billie in Our House at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre, Leaf’s Mom/Jesus in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Clara in Ghost the Musical (Third Year). In her second year, she played the role of Cora Hoover Hooper in Anyone Can Whistle. She is absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been chosen would like to thank the Sondheim Society for this wonderful opportunity and I’d also like to thank her friends and family for all the support, especially her Mum, “who has been there for me every step of the way”.

Sondheim: “Me and My Town” (Anyone Can Whistle)

BNS: “The Driving Lesson” by Tim Connor


Student Performer of the Year: Edward Seckerson (Chair), Jason Carr, Sophie-Louise Dann, Anne Reid and Thea Sharrock

Stiles+Drewe Prize for Best New Song: Dan Gillespie Sells, Giles Terera, George Stiles & Anthony Drewe


The MTI Stiles+Drewe Mentorship Award: Don Black, Paul Hart, Lotte Wakeham, and George Stiles & Anthony Drewe

bottom of page