Joanna Riding to host West End Gala of the 13th Annual Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year and The 12th Annual Stiles + Drewe Prize

The Stephen Sondheim Society and Mercury Musical Developments today announced the West End gala of the 13th annual Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year (SSSSPOTY) and the 12th anniversary of The Stiles + Drewe Prize. The 2019 competition is being staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on Sunday 9 June, hosted by two-time Olivier Award winner and star of the current revival of Follies at the National Theatre, Joanna RidingChris Hocking returns to direct the gala, with musical direction by Nigel Lilley, and a guest performance by 2018 SSSSPOTY winner Alex Cardall.

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 song by Stephen Sondheim, and a new musical theatre song written by members of Mercury Musical Developments. The performers are competing for the top prize of £1,000, judged by writer and broadcaster Edward Seckerson, with Julia McKenzie (six-time Olivier Award nominee and two-time winner, and Tony Award nominee), and Peter Polycarpou (currently starring in Man of La Mancha).

The Stiles + Drewe Prize supports and develops new musical theatre writing, recognising an outstanding song from a new musical, and is supported by The Entertainment Business, who said: “We’re delighted to be co-sponsoring the Best New Song prize for the third year running and to continue to support new musical writing”. 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 Nkeki Obi-Melekwe (currently starring as Tina in Tina The Musical).

Olivier Award-winning song-writing duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe today said We’ve had the biggest crop ever of entries for our Best New Song Prize this year.  Thank you to all the writers who submitted a phenomenal 177 entries and congratulations to our 12 fabulous finalists. Together with MMD, we’re passionate about showcasing emerging Musical Theatre writing talent and we’re delighted to see material full of flair and panache.”

Craig Glenday, Chair of The Stephen Sondheim Society, also said “Stephen Sondheim has said that teaching is a sacred profession, so it’s a privilege to be able to honour this sentiment by supporting these talented students. SSSSPOTY gives these bright lights the chance to sing on a West End stage – and to work with an established Director and Musical Director – and it gives the audience the chance to say ‘We were there!’ when they first heard these stars of the future perform. Good luck to everyone involved!”


Theatre Royal Haymarket

18 Suffolk St, London SW1Y 4HT

Box Office: 0207 930 8800



 Twitter: @stilesanddrewe




Ticket prices: £17.40-£47.50

Running time: 2 hours