The 12 finalists of the Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year have been announced.
Mercury Musical Developments and The Stephen Sondheim Society have selected the finalists from performing arts schools from around the country. The finalists will perform at the 2017 competition staged at the Noel Coward Theatre on 11 June.
The finalists are Tom Blackmore, Verity Blyth, Katie Buchholz, Oscar Conlon-Morrey, Georgia Frost, Izuka Hoyle, Rob Peacock, Emma Rendell, Georgia Richardson, Shaq Taylor, Jack Whittle and Joe Wiltshire Smith.
The West End gala will be hosted by Clive Rowe and will feature a special performance from guest judge Janie Dee. Broadcaster Edward Seckerson will chair the Student Performer judges while Julia McKenzie will present the prize.
The annual competition has the finalists perform a classic Stephen Sondheim song as well as a new musical theatre song, written by members of Mercury Musical Developments.
Alongside the Student Performer of the Year, Stiles and Drewe Prize recognises an outstanding song from a new musical. The judging panel includes writers George Stiles and Anthony Drewe along with Dan Gillespie Sells and Giles Terera. Winners of the Student Performer of the Year and New Musical Theatre Song both receive £1,000.
The writing duo's Mentorship Award also gives the chance for a new musical to be developed over a 12 month period resulting in an industry showcase.
The Stephen Sondheim Society chairman Craig Glenday said: "These talented young men and women are the stars of the future, and we're excited to give them this opportunity to perform on a West End stage – most of them for the first time. Sondheim himself talks about teaching as a sacred profession, and The Stephen Sondheim Society is committed to supporting and encouraging students in all aspects of musical theatre."
Past finalists of the student performer prize have included Taron Egerton and Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo.
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