Winners announced for the Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer Of The Year

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Winner Corrine Priest with Julia McKenzie

The finals of the eighth Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer Of The Year Competition took place on 18 May at the Garrick Theatre.

The competition was won by 20-year-old Corrine Priest. The London School of Musical Theatre student performed Sondheim’s ‘Don’t Laugh’ from musical Hotspot. Priest was presented with her prize by patron of the Stephen Sondheim Society, Julia McKenzie. Callum Mcintyre, from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, was this year’s runner up. The 23-year-old performed ‘Buddy’s Blues’ from Follies.

The Stiles & Drewe Best New Song Prize was also presented as part of the competition. Twelve new musical songs competed for the top prize, which was won by Tamar Broadbent. The 26-year-old had two of her songs in the finals: ‘The Procrastination Song’ and ‘Library Boy’. Both prize-winners were presented with £1,000.

Judges for this year’s competition included Julia McKenzie, director and choreographer Jonathan Butterell, musical director Nigel Lilley, director David Lan and writer Edward Seckerson. The best new song prize was judged by singer songwriter Scott Alan, composer Andrew Lippa and, the award’s namesakes, composer/lyricists George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

Winners of 2014 Off West End Awards revealed

The winners of the 2014 Off West End Awards, known as The Offies, have been announced. This year’s ceremony took place on 2 March and was hosted by Unicorn Theatre.

The offiesSouthwark Playhouse’s musical production Titanic came away as this year’s big winner with four prizes: best lighting designer, best choreographer, best costume designer and best musical production. Phoebe Waller-Bridge also had an impressive evening as she was awarded for best female performance and named most promising new playwright for her one-woman show Fleabag at Soho Theatre.

The award for best production for young people was shared by the ceremony’s host Unicorn Theatre for their production of Cinderella, which was co-produced with Travelling Light and The Tobacco, and Polka Theatre, who won for children’s theatre company Cahoots NI’s production Egg.

According to Off West End’s website, The Offies ‘help raise the profile and status of independent theatres in London by giving them greater power to promote their work individually and collectively and to reward the new talent that they nurture and that is essential to the future of our theatre industry.’

In a first, following this year’s awards the winners as part of their prize will receive advice from a industry experts in taking the next steps in their career. Industry figures taking part this year include the Young Vic’s artistic director David Lan, forthcoming National Theatre director Rufus Norris, and producer Sonia Friedman.

The full list of Off West End Award winners for 2014:

Best female performance
Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag at Soho Theatre

Best male performance
Jamie Samuel for Jumpers for Goalposts at the Bush Theatre

Best new play
The Match Box by Frank McGuinness at the Tricycle Theatre

Most promising new playwright
Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag at Soho Theatre

Best director
Michael Strassen for Billy at the Union Theatre

Best producer
Sasha Regan at the Union Theatre

Best artistic director
David Byrne at the New Diorama Theatre

Best lighting designer
Howard Hudson for Titanic (Southwark Playhouse) and Lizzie Siddal (Arcola Theatre)

Best sound designer
Ben and Max Ringham for Ring at Battersea Arts Centre

Best set designer
Oliver Townsend for Grounded at the Gate Theatre

Best costume designer
David Woodhead for Lizzie Siddal at the Arcola Theatre and Titanic at Southwark Playhouse

Best choreographer
Cressida Carre for Titanic at Southwark Playhouse

Best ensemble
Simple8 for Moby Dick and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (both Arcola Theatre)

Best production
Grounded at the Gate Theatre

Best musical production
Titanic at Southwark Playhouse

Best new musical
Glasgow Girls at Theatre Royal Stratford East

Best opera production
Puppet Opera Triple Bill by Third Hand at the Rosemary Branch

Best production for young people
Cinderella at the Unicorn Theatre co-produced with Travelling Light and The Tobacco Factory; Egg by Cahoots NI at Polka Theatre

Best TBC production (for shows that do not fall within other categories)
Tomorrow’s Parties by Forced Entertainment at Battersea Arts Centre

Special panel award
The Yard

For more information, visit www.offwestend.com/index.php/pages/the_offies.

Arts Council chair to step down

Dame Liz Forgan will not be returning as chair of the Arts Council, after being asked to step down from her role by ministers. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt decided not to reappoint Forgan when her term ends at the beginning of next year.

Forgan, 67, became the first woman to fill the post, when she was appointed by Labour in February 2009. The news of her departure came as a shock to many theatre industry insiders. Director of Tate Modern, Sir Nicholas Serota said he was, ‘deeply disappointed’ by the news. He said: ‘She has led the council with real verve and conviction through a period in which cuts to arts spending could have resulted in the loss of major parts of our cultural landscape.’

Artistic director of the Young Vic, David Lan said: ‘I’m really shocked. She has done really well, and is popular with people it’s not particularly easy to be popular with. She was doing really well but had only just got going. It’ll be a big pair of shoes to fill.’

Former chairs of the Arts Council have seen their terms extended, many had expected Forgan’s term to be extended until 2015. The search for her replacement is expected to start after Easter. Potential candidates are rumoured to be former Tory cabinet minister, Michael Portillo and former Endemol chairman, Sir Peter Bazalgette.

Arts Council chief executive, Alan Davey said: ‘Liz has been an outstanding chair and will be much missed. I have valued her passion, insight and strong leadership as we worked together through challenging times to deliver a sustainable future for the arts in England and to maintain their world standing.’

Forgan responded to Jeremy Hunt’s announcement in a letter, in which she said that it had been: ‘a privilege to be the first woman to the lead the arts council, and to do so in challenging times.’

She said that she was, ‘extremely sorry to leave before the job is completed but the essence of the arms-length principle, which I wholeheartedly support, is that ministers must be able to make their appointments as they see fit.’

Dame Liz Forgan will officially step down from her position as chair in January 2013.