Winners of the 13th annual Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year (SSSSPOTY) and the 12th annual Stiles + Drewe Best New Song Prize were announced last night at a gala held at Theatre Royal Haymarket, hosted by Joanna Riding. The winner of this year’s SSSSPOTY award was Stuart Thompson from LAMDA, who performed "Franklin Shepard, Inc" and "My Thing".
Paige Fenlon from Bird College was selected as runner up, and Jamie Bogyo from RADA as third place.
Craig Glenday, Chair of the Stephen Sondheim Society, today said:
“Once again, the standard at this annual celebration of young and emerging talent was incredibly high, and I know the judges struggled to pick the winners. This gala has earned its status as one of the most important musical-theatre events of the year, and the Society is thrilled at the enthusiastic response from all those in attendance. Many thanks to our generous patron Julia McKenzie for once again allowing us to award a third place performer, and congratulations to Stuart, Paige and Jamie - well done and well deserved. But we really want to commend everyone for staging the most marvellous afternoon of entertainment."
Theo Jamieson was awarded the Stiles + Drewe Prize for his original song "Words/Amazing". And Ben Glasstone and Poppy Burton-Morgan were chosen as runners up for the Stiles + Drewe Prize, for their original song "My Thing".
George Stiles and Anthony Drewe also said:
"There is no question that there is a wonderful array of musical theatre writing talent here in the UK. We were so thrilled to receive over 170 entries this year, and proud to present our 12 exceptional finalists on the Theatre Royal Haymarket stage. The diversity and strength of the writing featured in this afternoon's gala bears testament to a very exciting future for British musical theatre.”
The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year was chosen by judges Daisy Maywood, Julia McKenzie, Peter Polycarpou, Edward Seckerson (Chair) and Gareth Valentine. Anthony Drewe, Charles Hart, Jenna Russell, and Nkeki Obi-Melekwe selected the Stiles + Drewe Prize winner. Both winners were awarded £1,000 – with thanks to Tricia Sharpe and Ray Barker for their generous donation of the Student Prize.
Runner-up Paige was awarded £500, for whom we'd like to thank the Newsome Family, who also provided a £150 prize to the singer of the Best New Song, Niamh James from the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama.
The gala also featured performances from host Joanna Riding, 2018 SSSSPOTY winner Alex Cardall, who reprised his winning number from last year ("Buddy's Blues") and also sang with Tori Allen-Martin, and Andy Coxon and Gabriela Garcia, the stars of the recent Royal Exchange Theatre production of West Side Story, performed the Balcony Scene with MD Jason Carr at the piano.
The Society would like to thank the tireless MD Nigel Lilley and Director Chris Hocking for once again helping us to create a fantastic Sunday afternoon of music.