Stephen Sondheim Society Announces Masterclass Panel Featuring Daniel Evans, Fra Fee and More
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, plans for the annual Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year (#SSSSPOTY) were sadly cancelled. The week that lockdown was announced, 70 students from colleges nationwide had been due to travel to London, in order to select 12 finalists to compete for Student Performer of the Year 2020 in June.
Despite being unable to stage the competition this year, the SSS have sought ways to support this year's SSSSPOTY entrants as they face graduating into such difficult industry conditions. As a result, they put together the SSSSPOTY 20220 Sondheim Masterclass, with a panel of leading theatre influencers, with a wealth of Sondheim experience, including:
Daniel Evans,currently artistic director at Chichester Festival Theatre and two times Olivier Award winner in Best Actor in a Musical for Sunday in the Park with George and Merrily We Roll Along.
Fra Fee, soon to play Patrick/Pussy in Breakfast on Pluto and WhatsOnStage winner for Best Supporting Actor for The Ferryman.
Nigel Lilley, Musical Director for Follies, Caroline or Change and the sadly postponed Sunday in the Park with George.
Charlotte Sutton, Casting Associate for Chichester Festival Theatre and Marianne Elliot's Company, plus the postponed Sunday in the Park with George and Assassins.
Alex Young, previous SSSSPOTY winner (2010), recently Polly, Standing at the Sky's Edge and Brutus, Corialanus, both at Sheffield Crucible. Also Young Sally, Follies at National Theatre and Sally Smith, Me and My Girl, Chichester Festival Theatre.
Being very conscious of the changing prospects facing these graduates, the panel are very pleased to support this project:
Daniel Evans: "When our theatres and concert halls open again, we will need actors and singers to delight us. So, it is a particular honour to be supporting the next generation of performers through SSSSPOTY, which is bringing us all together online while we're distanced."
Fra Fee: "I'm incredibly excited to be working with some of the best Sondheim-istas in the business. 2020 is a strange year for everybody and I feel particularly sorry for those graduating from college, sadly unable to share the fruits of their labour. It will be a real honour to be treated to their talent from my living room."
Charlotte Sutton: "I am delighted to take part in the SSSSPOTY Sondheim Masterclass, particularly in 2020 when many of the students will not have had the chance to perform in their graduating showcases. It is a very unusual time to enter the theatre industry, and I look forward to finding new ways to support them!"
Alex Young: "In these difficult and often sad times, it'll be such a treat and a tonic to be sung to by some of the best graduates in the country. I'm very grateful to Charlotte, Daniel, Fra and Nigel for agreeing to offer an insight into their bountiful experience, kindness and wisdom."
Craig Glenday, Chairman of the Stephen Sondheim Society said: "We really felt the disappointment of these students who had prepared their Sondheim pieces and were looking forward to competing this year. In view of the situation, it was clearly impossible to stage the competition, but we wanted to find a way to support this cohort of graduates entering the industry in such challenging times. We are grateful that one of our very successful SSSSPOTY winners, Alex Young, has been able to help us gather together this mega panel, with so much Sondheim experience: from performers to directors, and across areas such as musical direction and casting. They can give the valuable feedback and advice needed today. Due to time restrictions, only some students will be able to perform, but all 70 will be able to 'attend' this exclusive Masterclass and Q&A, created solely for their benefit. It's a tremendous opportunity to learn from this incredible group of experts and something we hope will bolster the students' understanding and confidence.
At this stage, it is solely for the benefit of SSSSPOTY entrants only, but we hope to make it available at a later date on our educational platform, to students and our members."
The Stephen Sondheim Society (SSS) is a charitable trust (#1142092) founded upon the work of composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim to provide education, support and encouragement to up-and-coming young performers and the theatre community. SSSSPOTY is a focal point for the SSS each year and supports graduating students honing their acting through song skills by performing Sondheim. This would have been the 14th year of a competition that has seen winners such as Taron Egerton and finalists including Cynthia Erivo.
Last year's winner Stuart Thompson appeared as Geoff in A Taste of Honey, National Theatre tour and Trafalgar Studios; and finalists included Lily Kerhoas, Cosette in Les Miserables, The Concert and West End ; Cameron Burt, Sky in Mamma Mia and Oisin Nolan-Power, Ben in Rags the Musical, Park Theatre and Cast Recording.