Olivier Award-winning writing duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe have announced the winners of their newly-expanded Stiles + Drewe Prize 2016. Now in its ninth year, the Stiles + Drewe Prize for Best New Song is joined by their first ever Mentorship Award, supported by Music Theatre International (Europe). Darren Clark and Rhys Jennings win the Mentorship Award with the new musical The Wicker Husband.
The writers will receive 12 months of mentorship and support, benefiting from monthly writers’ labs, a one-week writing retreat, and two panel-led progress labs. The year will culminate in an industry showcase at the award’s venue partner, the St James Theatre, which has a history of nurturing new work and encouraging emerging artists.
Stiles and Drewe won the first Vivian Ellis Prize in 1985 for their musical Just So, which introduced them to the major heavyweights of the musical theatre world and made an enormous impact at the beginning of their careers. The MTI Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award aims to give a similar kick-start to a new generation of musical theatre writing talent.
Tim Connor has won the Stiles + Drewe Prize for Best New Song for ‘Back to School’ from his new musical Heart of Winter. This prize recognises an outstanding song from a new musical, and the winner receives £1,000 to put towards developing their work.
The Stiles + Drewe Prize is offered in conjunction with the Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year Award which were both announced at a West End Gala at the Novello Theatre produced by Mercury Musical Developments (MMD).
This year’s gala, celebrating its tenth anniversary, was hosted by Julian Ovenden. Judges included Don Black, Jason Carr, Anne Reid MBE, Sondheim Society patron Julia McKenzie and Olivier Award-nominated actress Sophie-Louise Dann.
Stiles and Drewe – who premiere three new shows this year (Travels With My Aunt, Half a Sixpence and Wind in the Willows) – are best known for their scores for Honk!, Betty Blue Eyes and the new music and lyrics for the hit Disney/Cameron Mackintosh production of Mary Poppins which is currently touring the UK. They are founding board members of Mercury Musical Developments, which administrates the Stiles + Drewe Prize.
Stiles and Drewe said today: “Writing a new musical is hard. It requires the stamina of a marathon runner to get an idea out of your head and onto a stage. We’re really excited to be mentoring a show as imaginative and ambitious as The Wicker Husband, a piece that aims to create its own world in a way that is truly theatrical.”
Readers may also be interested in:
The Wicker Husband – the inside story on bringing a new musical to life
Interview – George Stiles and Anthony Drewe on a Chichester double and nurturing new writers