The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year competition – affectionately known as SSSSPOTY – was inaugurated in 2007, and in 2023 returns for its 15th year. The gala final will be held, fittingly, in the Sondheim Theatre, on the afternoon of 11 June 2023.
The final will be hosted by Alex Young, whose Sondheim credentials include Young Sally in the recent National Theatre cast of ‘Follies’, The Baker’s Wife in Terry Gilliam’s ‘Into The Woods’ at the Theatre Royal Bath and Cora Hoover Hooper in ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ at Southwark Playhouse. Alex is a former winner of the event, taking home the SSSSPOTY prize in 2010 after her hilarious rendition of ‘Sunday in the Park with George’ from the musical of the same name.
This year, The Stephen Sondheim Society (a charitable trust founded in 1993) asked for the first round of auditions to be made via video. More than 250 submissions were received, 80 of which qualified for a live, in-person audition with critic and broadcaster Edward Seckerson (Chair of the Judges) and Musical Director Nigel Lilley (‘Follies’, National Theatre; ‘Fun Home’, Young Vic). 12 finalists were selected, with 2 students held in reserve.
The 12 finalists are:
Sara Bartos (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)
Emily Botnen (Royal Academy of Music)
Lucy Carter (Royal Academy of Music)
Harry Lake (Guildford School of Acting)
Josh Lewindon (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
Ritesh Manugula (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
Tom O’Kelly (Royal Academy of Music)
Emily Ridge (Leeds Conservatoire)
Pétur Svavarsson (Royal Academy of Music)
Isobel Twist (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School)
Harry Warburton (Guildford School of Acting)
Milly Willows (Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts)
The Stephen Sondheim Society Trustees and judges also agreed to select two reserves:.
El Haq Latief (Royal Academy of Music)
Thom Foster (The Hammond School)
The winner will receive a £1,000 first prize, and the chance to headline their own Sondheim-infused cabaret in London. The runner-up is also awarded £500.