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Sondheim Society Student Performer and Stiles & Drewe Prize Winners Announced

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The Stephen Sondheim Society and Mercury Musical Developments today announce the winners of the Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year and Stiles + Drewe Prize. The winners were revealed at the West End Gala held at the No?l Coward Theatre which was hosted by Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe.

Izuka Hoyle wins the Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year performing "Last Midnight" from Stephen Sondheim's musical Into the Woods and 'The Matchmaker' written by Claire McKenzie and Scott Gilmour. Hoyle was selected out of 12 finalists who qualified from the UK's many musical theatre courses and has been awarded a £1,000 first prize. Shaq Taylor is named runner-up for performances of 'Epiphany' from Sondheim's Sweeny Todd and new song "Apology to a Child' by Tom Slade. In addition, Oscar Conlon-Morrey was awarded third place.

Tom Lees and Claire Rivers win the Stiles + Drewe Prize for Best New Song for 'Gerry and Me'. This prize recognises an outstanding song from a new musical, and the winners receives a prize of £1,000 to put towards developing their work.

In addition to this Ben Glasstone wins the MTI Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award, supported by Music Theatre International (Europe),with his new musical, Reanimator. The Award offers 12 months of mentorship and sustained support including a writing retreat, two Progress Labs, and culminates in an industry showcase. The inaugural winner of the Mentorship Award The Wicker Husband recently had its presentation at The Other Palace after winning the award last year.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges including Rachel Kavanaugh, Simon Lee, Alex Young and Janie Dee for the Student Performer of the Year Award with the panel chaired by Edward Seckerson and Julia McKenzie presented the prizes. The Best New Song Prize was judged by Dan Gillespie Sells, Giles Terera, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

This annual gala is co-produced by The Stephen Sondheim Society and Mercury Musical Developments and was this year directed by Chris Hocking, with musical direction by Stephen Ridley.

The Stephen Sondheim Society Chairman Craig Glenday said today 'We say every year that the standard gets better and better but this year we saw a real change in the talent on offer. How the judges could choose from such a talented group is beyond me. All three students recognised in the top three were outstanding and are undoubtedly destined for stardom.'

Executive Director of MMD Victoria Saxton said 'British talent is thriving. Now is such an exciting time for new work and tonight proved there's enough new talent to fill UK theatres twice.'

Stiles and Drewe said today, 'There is no question that there is a wonderful new wave of writing talent, starting to crest in the UK. The diversity and strength of the writing featured in this afternoon's gala bears testament to a very exciting future for British musical theatre.'

Notes to editors

Izuka Hoyle is originally from Edinburgh, and moved to London in 2014 to attend Arts Educational Schools on the Andrew Lloyd Webber Scholarship. Due to graduate in September, Hoyle is currently appearing in Working at the Southwark Playhouse. She will shortly after begin shooting her first feature film, joining an A-list cast, and marking her professional screen debut. She also previously won the Young Scottish Musical Theatre Performer of the Year back in 2015.

Please see below for the full list of the 12 finalist student performers:

Tom Blackmore - London College of Music

Verity Blyth - Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

Katie Buchholz - RADA

Oscar Conlon-Morrey - Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts

Georgia Frost - Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

Izuka Hoyle - ArtsEd

Rob Peacock - London School of Musical Theatre

Emma Rendell - LAMDA

Georgia Richardson - Italia Conti Academy Of Theatre Arts

Shaq Taylor - ArtsEd

Jack Whittle - GSA, University of Surrey

Joe Wiltshire Smith - RWCMD

Please see below for the three finalists for the MTI Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award:

Christmas, Already by Jim Barne and Kit Buchan

Once Upon A Time in Narcissia by Youn Young Park and Susannah Pearse

Reanimator by Ben Glasstone

Please see below for the full list of the 12 finalists for the Stiles + and Drewe Best New Song Prize:

"Underneath" by Chris Ash and Carl Miller

"What'll It Be?" by Jim Barne and Kit Buchan

"My Island" by Chris Dickins and Tom Wright

"Filament" by Matt Finch and Melanie Lawman

"I'm A Dunce" by Marc Folan and Carl Miller

"Work To Do" by Ben Glasstone

"Gerry And Me" by Tom Lees and Claire Rivers

"The Matchmaker" by Claire McKenzie and Scott Gilmour

"My Favourite Guy" by Graham Mercer

"Doesn't Mean He'll Love Me" by Youn Young Park and Susannah Pearse

"Apology To A Child" by Tom Slade

"Brass" by Benjamin Till

Previous winners of the Stiles and Drewe Prize for Best New Song include Tamar Broadbent who took her one-woman show All By My Selfie to the Adelaide Fringe. The 2015 winners Richy Hughes and Joseph Finlay are receiving a full production of their musical The Superhero at the Southwark Playhouse. Their winning song 'Don't Look Down' will be performed at the Gala. Past finalists of the student performer prize have included Hollywood star Taron Egerton and Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo.


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