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Stephen Sondheim Student Performer of the Year Competition 2014 Set for May 18 at the Garrick Theatre

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Stephen Sondheim Student Performer of the Year Competition 2014 Set for May 18 at the Garrick Theatre

The passion, complexity and pure joy of singing SONDHEIM knows no bounds for a performer, but for the 12 finalists of this year's The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer Of The Year Competition 2014 (SSSSPOTY), all will be revealed as they sing their hearts out competing for the title on SUNDAY 18 MAY at 3pm at the West End's GARRICK THEATRE. As if that weren't enough for them to sing in one afternoon, at SONDHEIM's request, the 12 finalists will also be singing the 12 new musical songs that are competing for The Stiles & Drewe Best New Song Prize.

STEPHEN SONDHEIM says: "What's significant about this competition is that it allows students to demonstrate their skills in story-telling through song. Moreover, it allows the public to hear new writing voices as well as new singing ones. Good luck to the singers, and remember to honour the songwriters. Good luck to the songwriters, and remember to honour the singers".

This is a real treat for a West End audience to see a rare performance of SONDHEIM's song Girls of Summer from the 1956 show of the same name - not to mention songs from: Sweeney Todd, Follies, Company, Sunday in the Park With George, Passion and Into The Woods. With SONDHEIM's music and lyrics so central to the competition, the stakes are high for the 12 young musical theatre actors starting out on their careers. The twelve finalists **, aged 20-24, come from 11 drama schools across the UK - from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, to the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, via the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and CPA Studios in Romford Essex.

The renowned Sondheim performer and Patron of The Stephen Sondheim Society JULIA MCKENZIE will be presenting the coveted Awards; alongside a glittering line up of judges including Patrons MARIA FRIEDMAN and JENNA RUSSELL, who have both won Oliver/Tony Awards for their performances in Sondheim musicals; with musical director NIGEL LILLEY, director DAVID LAN and writer EDWARD SECKERSON judging the SSSSPOTY; whilst composer/lyricists ADAM GUETTEL, GEORGE STILES and ANTHONY DREWE will be judging the Best New Song - the afternoon is hosted by DAVID BEDELLA.

Past winners of SSSSPOTY are even now making their way in the world of musical theatre and the arts, including last year's winner Turlough Convery, who was recommended by Julia McKenzie to star in BBC Radio 3's Sondheim: Inside Out; 2012's Kris Olsen who is to star in Oslo's premiere production of Beauty and the Beast; 2011's Taron Egerton currently starring in Sky's The Smoke; and 2010's Alex Young is in the West End in I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical.

GEORGE STILES says: "We are delighted with the standard of songs that continue to be submitted for The Stiles & Drewe Best Song Prize, through Mercury Musical Developments (MMD). We are even more delighted to see past winners musicals go on to further development - Gwyneth Herbert (2010) has enjoyed a full production of her musical The A to Z of Mrs P featuring her winning song 'London Town'; and Tamar Broadbent's (2013) musical Pierced, with her winning song '17 Drafts', was performed at The New Musical Project. We know this year's competition will reveal further new musical writing talent."

The prestige and impact of these awards continues to grow each year, and in its eighth year, the industry spotlight is firmly on these up and coming musical theatre talents, winning the top £1000 prize. The event is produced by NEIL MARCUS and SAMUEL JOSEPH; directed by CHRIS HOCKING with musical direction by MARK ETHERINGTON.

The GARRICK THEATRE is located at 2 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HH. Box Office: 0844 412 4662 / nimaxtheatres.com. Ticket Prices: Premium £28.50 / Full £21.50 / Student £15.50. Tickets include the £2.50 booking fee (phone/internet - but not charged in person) and the £1 restoration levy (on all). Group bookings: 10% off on parties of 10 and above. Fair Access: Carer goes Free on Full price tickets (levy & booking fees still apply unless bought in person).

**THE SSSSPOTY FINALISTS:

HUGO CATTON (23) Guildford School of Acting

LUKE FRANCIS (22) East 15 Acting School, University of Essex

HAYLEY HAMPSON (24) Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

STEPHANIE LYSÉ (23) Royal Academy of Music

NICOLA MARTINUS-SMITH (24) CPA Studios

CALLUM MCINTYRE (23) Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

SAM O'HANLON (21) Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts

CORRINE PRIEST (20) London School of Musical Theatre

KATIE SHEARMAN (21) ArtsEd

TYLER SMITH (22) Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

JAY WORLEY (21) Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

MONIQUE YOUNG (22) ArtsEd

THE STEPHEN SONDHEIM SOCIETY: www.sondheim.org - a registered charity promoting the works of Stephen Sondheim.

MERCURY MUSICAL DEVELOPMENTS (MMD): http://mercurymusicals.com - a registered charity dedicated to the craft of writing book, music and lyrics for the musical theatre. MMD is part of the Arts Council England National Portfolio.

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