Tracie Bennett to host West End Gala
Tracie Bennett to host West End Gala

The Stephen Sondheim Society and Mercury Musical Developments today announce the 12th annual West End Gala for The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year and the 11th anniversary of The Stiles + Drewe Prize. The 2018 competition is being staged at the Savoy Theatre on Sunday 10 June at 3pm, hosted by Olivier Award winner Tracie Bennett.

Chris Hocking returns to direct the annual gala, with musical direction by Mark Etherington and a special guest performer to be announced!

This annual competition, co-produced by The Stephen Sondheim Society and Mercury Musical Developments, sees twelve of the top student performers from musical theatre and drama schools across the UK each perform a classic song by Stephen Sondheim and a new musical theatre song, written by members of Mercury Musical Developments.

The first prize is £1,000. Writer and broadcaster Edward Seckerson returns to Chair the Student Performer judges with Rebecca Caine (the original Cosette in Les Miserables, and Christine in the original London and Canadian companies of The Phantom of the Opera), Rebecca Trehearn (Olivier Award winner for the recent London run of Showboat), Stephen Ridley (Musical Director for American in Paris and The King and I) and David Benedict (Sondheim’s official biographer).

The Stiles + Drewe Prize supports and develops new musical theatre writing via its two distinct arms. Recognising an outstanding song from a new musical and supported by The Entertainment Business, the winner of Best New Song receives £1,000 to put towards developing their work. Judging the Best New Song entries with Stiles and Drewe will be Sharon D Clarke (Caroline, or Change, The Lion King, We Will Rock You) and writer/director Susie McKenna (former Creative Director of Hackney Empire).

In addition, the winner of the Stiles and Drewe Mentorship Award – now in its third year, generously supported by Music Theatre International (Europe) – will also be announced at the Gala. One new musical and its writer(s) will be selected to receive mentorship over a 12-month period, culminating in an industry showcase. Along with Stiles and Drewe, the 2018 judges were composer Grant Olding, the Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate James Dacre and Chichester Festival Theatre’s producer Amelia Ferrand-Rook. A song from each of the three finalist shows will be performed at the event.

Olivier Award-winning writing duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe said today, “This is without doubt an incredibly strong year for both The Mentorship and Best New Song Prize and we congratulate everyone who entered, all the finalists and shortlisted shows on your passion, imagination and wonderful writing. Keep pumping new blood into new British musical theatre!”

The West End Gala will be held at the Savoy Theatre on Sunday 10th June 2018.

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