Venue: Sondheim Theatre
Date: 30 May
MD: Nigel Lilley
Director: Hannah Chissick
Host: Jenna Russell
Opening number: "Back in Business" from Dick Tracy
Guest performers: Alex Young; Lucy Carter and Laurie Jones; ensemble from NYMT
Winner: Desmonda Cathabel (RAM)
Runner-up: Ella Shepherd (Bird College Conservatoire))
Third place: Jade Oswald (RAM)
Judges: Edward Seckerson (Chair), Daniel Evans, Theo Jamieson, Liz Robertson, Caroline Sheen, Michael D. Xavier.
New songs courtesy of NEW UK MUSICALS
Caitlyn Allen (she/her) - Arts Ed - BA Hons Musical Theatre (third year)
"There Won't Be Trumpets" / "Poppy's Song" by Michael Webborn & Daniel Finn
I was born and raised in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. I first started singing when I was 6 or 7 years old, after I watched Joseph at the Palladium in 2007. The first experience of performing was when I was 10, I was cast as Annie in Annie at the St Alban Arena. I had always loved musical theatre, so when I was cast in Annie I found it mad that I was up on stage doing what I love. I auditioned for Tring Park when I was 10 and was fortunate enough to win two scholarships for what ended up being seven years of training in musical theatre until I was 18 years old. During my time at Tring, I also took part in Little Shop of Horrors as Audrey at the Milton Keynes Theatre with Vivo D’Arte, a youth theatre production. At Tring, I was fortunate enough to perform in cabarets across London, including at the Shaw Theatre and The Pheasantry.
Sondheim experience: I performed "Take Me to the World" from Evening Primrose and "You Could Drive A Person Crazy" from Company for my first year singing project at ArtsEd, which was an absolute blast.
Favourite Sondheim song: "Stay with Me" from Into the Woods
Favourite Sondheim show: I can’t choose one! Either Into the Woods or Company
Dream MT role: Sally Bowles in Cabaret or Elphaba in Wicked
Who most inspires you?: It’ll have to be Patti LuPone, as she channels every single character she performs with such conviction and power. I’ve always admired that Patti puts the story first no matter what the character, and her powerhouse voice is an amazing bonus to add to the character. Also Patti is the most iconic diva of musical theatre and I adore her work ethic and personality. The passion she has for the theatre is unmatched.
How does it feel to be selected for SSSSPOTY?: I’m so honoured to be selected in the final of SSSSPOTY. I adore Sondheim and to be able to perform on the Sondheim stage honouring his work is incredible. As a graduating actor, I cannot believe that I have been given this amazing opportunity just before I go into the industry as a professional.
Rithvik Andugula (he/him) - LAMDA - BA Acting (third year)
"In Praise of Women" / “Plenty of Room” by Amir Shoenfeld
Born in India, the state of Andhra Pradesh. Moved out to the UK aged 5, being raised in London and Cardiff. I started acting around the age of 11, my first performance being in the Great Hall in Aberystwyth Arts Centre. I was very interested from then on, but didn't have as much opportunity in Cardiff. Due to my high school performing a musical every year, I was able to take part again and build on my love for performing. I've been in many shows, with some of my favourites being Les Misérables, My Fair Lady and Grease, my first musical!
I was in a theatre company called Harmonic Arts Company Cardiff, as well as Young Actors Studio, a year course in Royal Welsh College of Music and Dramatic Art. I had singing lessons from various singing teachers over the years, starting from when I was 15. Performing-wise, I was a finalist for the Roundhouse poetry slam, where I performed two self-written pieces, as well as other venues when it comes to poetry. I also make music, as a Rapper/singer, releasing an EP last year, and performing at gigs coming later this year. As an artist, performing blends into one, whether it's poetry, a monologue, or a song, it all gives me the same satisfaction and joy. Building on these skills over the years, have allowed me to create an avenue into all these respected fields.
Sondheim experience: I've sung a couple songs from West Side Story, at some small showcases.
Favourite Sondheim song: "Maria" from West Side Story
Favourite Sondheim show: Sweeney Todd
Dream MT role: Alexander Hamilton
Who most inspires you?: My parents, for sacrificing everything and emigrating to the UK to provide a better life for their children.
How does it feel to be selected for SSSSPOTY?: I am incredibly grateful to be selected as a finalist and I hope to give people an experience through my work! Being a South Asian artist, there aren't many of us being represented, especially in the Musical Theatre world and I'd like to do whatever I can to help change that. To be on the Sondheim Theatre stage, where my favourite musical is shown everyday, is a literal dream come true. This will be a beautiful moment for all of us, as young upcoming performers to share the space in an incredible theatre and supporting one another!