Finalists announced for the 14th Annual Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year
The list has a track record of identifying some of the most exciting up-and-coming talent
The finalists have been announced for the upcoming Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year.
The annual event, held this year for the first time since the revered creative's death late last year, will see the 12 performers take to the stage (fittingly) at the Sondheim Theatre in the West End.
The final, taking place on 30 May, will be hosted by award-winning performer Jenna Russell (Follies, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George). An additional prize this year will be a "Comparing Notes" session from Edward Seckerson – as part of a series of conversations and performances at the Crazy Coqs. Seckerson and musical director Nigel Lilley (Fun Home) formed the judging panel for this year, selecting the winners from over 300 entries.
This is definitely a list to watch: previous finalists have included Cynthia Erivo, Oscar Conlon-Morrey and Shaq Taylor, and winners included Alex Young, Taron Egerton, Turlough Convery, Erin Doherty and, most recently, Stuart Thompson (who won the Critics' Circle Award for a deftly wrought performance in Spring Awakening.
This year's finalists are:
- Caitlyn Allen - Arts Educational Schools (ArtsEd)
- Rithvik Andugula - London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA)
- Annabelle Aquino - Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
- Tommy Bell - Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
- Joe Boyle - Mountview
- Desmonda Cathabel - Royal Academy of Music
- Ed Cooke - East 15 Acting School
- Cassius Hackforth - Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
- Izzy Mackie - Royal Academy of Music
- Callum Martin - Bird College Conservatoire for Dance and Musical Theatre
- Jade Oswald - Royal Academy of Music
- Ella Shepherd - Bird College Conservatoire for Dance and Musical Theatre
Finalists must perform one song by Stephen Sondheim, as well as a tune from a new musical, selected by the New UK Musicals organisation, founded by composer Darren Clark.
For the first time ever, there will also be three "reserve" finalists in the event of performer absence:
- Mackenzie Larsen - London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA)
- Izi Maxwell - Mountview
- Tom Watson - Bird College Conservatoire for Dance and Musical Theatre
The Prize Giving will be led by Julia McKenzie, with the event directed by Hannah Chissick. Judging the event will be award-winning composer, lyricist, orchestrator, arranger, musical supervisor and pianist Theo Jamieson.
The winner will receive a £1,000 first prize, and the chance to headline their own Sondheim-infused cabaret in London.