Established in 2008 in honour of prolific theatrical biographer Sheridan Morley, the award constitutes a cash prize of £2000, with the winner being announced on 8 March 2012 in a ceremony at the Garrick Club.
The five books in contention this year are:
Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be: The Lionel Bart Story by David and Caroline Stafford
A revealing biography of Lionel Bart, best known for creating the book, music and lyrics for Oliver! He also wrote the famous songs “Living Doll” (Cliff Richard) and “From Russia With Love” (Matt Monro). He was a millionaire aged 30 in the Sixties, bankrupt in the Seventies and died in 1999 from liver cancer.
A Tiger’s Wedding by Isla Blair
Actress Isla Blair writes of her childhood in India, term times in spartan British boarding schools and of the time after school when she became one of the youngest students at RADA, training alongside Anthony Hopkins and others, throwing herself fully into life in London in the swinging sixties.
May I Have Your Attention, Please? by James Corden
From his time as one of the founding players of his school's first ever rugby team to nationwide fame as the loveably loud Smithy in the award-winning Gavin and Stacey, this is a tenderly - and very funnily - told story of what it's like to try, try and try again and get there in the end.
Tales From an Actor’s Life by Steven Berkoff
Long considered the enfant terrible of the British theatre — both as actor, director, and writer - and famous for his villainous roles in films such as A Clockwork Orange, Rambo and Octopussy, Steven Berkoff is original in everything he does. Now, in this captivating book, he shares scenes from his own colourful theatrical life, “thinly disguising them on occasion to protect the guilty” but never being less than entertaining and forthright in his accounts.
Look, I Made A Hat by Stephen Sondheim
As he did in the acclaimed and celebrated Finishing the Hat, Stephen Sondheim richly annotates his lyrics from 1981-2011 with personal and theatre history, discussions of his collaborations, and exacting, charming dissections of his work – both the successes and the failures. Picking up where he left off in Finishing the Hat, he gives us all the lyrics, along with cut-outs and early drafts, to, among others, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George, as well as Into the Woods, Assassins and Passion.