Photo Flash: Stephen Sondheim Receives Honorary Fellowship From Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Accepting the British honor last night at an intimate gathering of artists and special guests in New York, the legendary composer and lyricist remarked, "I've been an Anglophile for a long time, partly because the first good reviews I ever got were in London. This is a continuing love affair as far as I'm concerned."
Edward Kemp, Director or RADA, said, "During his extraordinary career Stephen Sondheim has transformed the landscape not only of musical theatre, but of theatre itself. In our training at RADA he is often compared both to Mozart and to Shakespeare, and in many ways his songs are as much the cornerstone of our singing training as Shakespeare's poems and plays are the foundation of our text work." o Jane Streeton, Lead Singing Tutor at RADA, said, "We train actors in all the skills needed to thrive in the profession, one of which is the ability to sing on stage with precision and truth. The very nature of Stephen Sondheim's work uniquely seems to draw out the authentic voice in all of our students and therefore RADA as a whole and not just the Singing Department, owes a huge debt of gratitude to this great American composer for his amazing body of work, which is also a profound influence in the development of our students in training."
The event was hosted by the British Consul-General, Antony Phillipson, at his residence, and included performances by RADA graduates Jamie Bogyo and Jenna Augen, who both sang songs by Sondheim; 'The Ballad of Booth' from Assassins, and 'Moments in the Woods' from Into the Woods, respectively. They were accompanied on piano by Larry Yurman
RADA has strong associations with Sondheim, not least through graduates such as Imelda Staunton CBE, Dame Diana Rigg, Adrian Lester OBE, Henry Goodman, and Dame Siân Phillips, whose interpretations of his work have become the stuff of legend. Each year RADA acting and theatre production students stage musicals, frequently by Sondheim - e.g. in recent years A Little Night Music (2017), Assassins (2018) and Into The Woods (2019). RADA students enter the Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year (SSSSPOTY) every year. Previous entrants have included Cynthia Erivo and Taron Egerton (winner, 2011); Jamie Bogyo was a runner up this year
RADA's diverse community includes students from all over the world, and graduates pursue successful careers in international creative industries, particularly on Broadway and in Hollywood, among them Kenneth Branagh, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Fiona Shaw, Alan Rickman, David Harewood, Michael Sheen, Mike Leigh, Sophie Okonedo, Maxine Peake, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessie Buckley.
Those achieving success in musical theatre find it not only in Sondheim works but in a wide range of styles on stage and screen - e.g. in recent years Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple (London and Broadway, Tony Award winner), Jamael Westman in Hamilton (title role in original West End cast), Peter Hannah in Waitress the Musical (original West End cast), Taron Egerton in Rocketman, Ben Whishaw in Mary Poppins Returns, Bertie Carvel in Matilda (West End and Broadway, Olivier Award winner and Tony nomination)
In spring 2020 RADA will once again hold auditions in New York and Los Angeles for its BA (Hons) in Acting (each year RADA auditions 3,500 applicants for just 28 places on the BA Acting, in addition to 30 students a year in Theatre Production). In collaboration with other UK drama schools, every year RADA hosts a New York showcase giving American students the opportunity to engage with US agents and casting directors
The Honorary Fellowship celebrates figures who have made a significant impact and contribution to RADA, to drama training or to the wider industry. RADA has recently revived the tradition of Honorary Fellows, appointing six since 2018 including Glenda Jackson, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Thelma Holt. All the fellows are invited to play a role in the life of the Academy, including meeting and working with students
The special event in New York was organized by ASRADA, the American Supporters of The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, which assists RADA by providing scholarships to enable and encourage students from all circumstances and backgrounds to attend the school
Photo Credit: Kurt Sneddon
Clemency Burton-Hill and Pamela dâa??a??Arc
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