In 1985, Stiles and Drewe were the recipients of the inaugural Vivian Ellis Prize for Just So. Winning the prize introduced them to many leading lights of the musical theatre world, whose advice and support in championing new writing became so important to them.
Anthony Drewe, George Stiles, Vivian Ellis and John Hosier (1985)
Credit: PRS for Music archive/Doug McKenzie photography
Since 2008, Stiles and Drewe have recognised new musical theatre writing via their annual 'Best New Song Prize'. From 2016, the broadening of the Stiles + Drewe Prize to include the new 'MTI Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award' will offer the musical theatre writing community greater financial and in-kind support via its two arms:
1. The ‘MTI Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award’ - an award given to a writer or writing team, centred around a one week writing retreat and culminating in an industry showcase presentation the following year. The Award is generously supported by Music Theatre International (Europe).
2. ‘Best New Song’ – recognising an outstanding song from a new musical, offered in conjunction with the Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year Award.
From 2016 Stiles and Drewe, along with a panel of judges will give the ‘MTI Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award’ on an annual basis. The award is fully funded by Music Theatre International (Europe), the world’s leading theatrical licensing agency.
The winning writer or writing team benefits from bespoke mentorship and support over a 12-month period. This includes:
1) A fully funded, one week development retreat to work on the winning musical.
2) Guaranteed free access to MMD’s monthly Advanced Writers’ Lab.
3) Participation in two Progress Labs. In each of these, the Mentorship Award-winner will present a section of their musical and receive feedback from MMD peers and a panel of professionals.
4) Access to work shadowing opportunities – either on a Stiles and Drewe show or with alternative industry contacts (subject to availability and production schedules).
5) After 12 months, the above culminates in rehearsal provision for a workshop with an industry showcase presentation at the end. This is with a professional cast, Director and MD.
The ‘Best New Song’ is awarded on an annual basis. 12 finalists have their songs performed by students participating in the Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year Award. For the last 8 years this has been at a gala held at a West End Theatre.
A panel of judges, including Stiles and Drewe, award the ‘Best New Song’ and the winner receives a prize of £1000 to put towards developing their work.
All 12 finalists have access to a Feedback Lab, hosted by Stiles and Drewe after the gala. They are also invited to be audience members in the two Progress Labs for the Mentorship Award-winner.
How to Submit:
Whilst there is no entry fee, writers must be members of Mercury Musical Developments (MMD) to enter the Stiles + Drewe Prize as this organisation administrates the prize for us.
Entry Requirements for the MTI Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award
We ask writers or writing teams to ensure they meet the following entry requirements:
• Entrants must be resident in the UK*
• Entrants must have written a full first draft of the musical entered
• Your musical cannot have had a professional production
Initially, we require the following as one document in PDF format:
1. A synopsis no longer than 500 words
2. A full character list
3. A full track list
4, A completed cover sheet and check list
• From the draft of the musical, entrants must submit three songs. Two songs should be submitted in the context of their scenes. A lyric sheet should be submitted for the third song. The maximum page limit for all of this material is 20 pages. The selected scenes and lyric sheet should be in PDF format.
• MP3 files and PDF sheet music (piano and vocal arrangement) must also be submitted for all three songs.
• Entrants should highlight on the accompanying cover sheet which of the three songs they want to be considered for the ‘Best New Song’. The entrant can select one song only for consideration. The song must be suitable for performance by one singer, either male or female. Songs should be able to be adjusted to comply with the latter.
• All material should be presented anonymously, save for the accompanying cover sheet.
• If the musical contains any copyrighted material, please submit proof that the underlying rights have been secured. If the musical is wholly original or based on material now in the public domain please submit a signed letter stating this.
• The judges may ask writers to produce a full draft of their musical in PDF format at any time.
Entry Requirements for the Best New Song
We ask writers or writing teams to ensure they meet the following entry requirements:
• The song must be from a musical, although the musical does not need to be complete. Stand-alone cabaret songs will not be accepted.
• The song must be suitable for performance by one singer, either male or female with piano accompaniment only. Songs should be able to be adjusted to comply with the former. Duets or ensembles are not eligible.
• The song cannot have been included in a previous professional production.
• If you are part of a song writing team, at least one of you must be a paid up member of MMD.
• Writers can submit a maximum of 2 songs; either written solely by themselves, two songs with the same collaborator or two songs with different collaborators.
• Songs must be submitted in mp3 format
• In the subject line of your email please detail S&D Best New Song, Song Title & Show Name.
• If shortlisted you will be required to provide a synopsis of your show detailing where the song appears and how it functions.
• Due to the volume of submissions, neither Stiles and Drewe nor MMD are able to give individual feedback regarding the final selection.
• Entries must be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This should contain a Dropbox link which gives access to all the necessary files/documents listed above. For the ‘Mentorship Award’ this should also include the completed cover sheet and check list. Full details on how to label your music files and PDF documents can be found on the cover sheet.
• Please note, if you do not submit via dropbox or label your files correctly we will be unable to download your application.
If you have any questions about the submission process please email: email@example.com
Submissions open: Friday 5th February 2016
Submissions for the Mentorship Award close: 23.59 on Sunday 13th March
Submission for the Best New Song close: 23.59 on Thursday 17th March
Finalists announced for Best New Song: Friday 15th April 2016
Mentorship Award and Best New Song winners announced: Sunday 15th May 2016 (at a West End gala – details to be announced).
*Please note that international members of MMD may submit for 'The Best New Song' only. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for the ‘International Submissions’ form and cover sheet.
Previous winners of the Best New Song Prize:
2015: Richy Hughes and Joseph Finlay for “Don’t Look Down” from The Superhero. Since winning the Best New Song Prize, Richy’s first professional Commission Mr Poppin’s Penguins has been out on UK Tour, produced by Olivier Award-winning producer Kenny Wax.
From left: Richy Hughes, George Stiles, Grant McConvey (performer), Anthony Drewe and Joseph Finlay.
2014: Uniquely, Tamar Broadbent had two songs in the final in 2014 “Library Boy” and “The Procrastination Song”. The panel therefore decided to recognise Tamar’s overall work. Tamar has recently taken her one-woman show All By My Selfie to the Adelaide Fringe and her musical Pierced, which includes her 2013 runner-up song “17 Drafts” was performed at the New Musical Project.
2013: “That Once-in-a-Lifetime Feeling” by Tim Sutton. Since winning the Best New Song Prize, Tim has been nominated for the Olivier for Outstanding Achievement in Music for his role as MD on Memphis The Musical. He has also worked at The National Theatre as an MD on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and as composer and MD on The Amen Corner.
2012: shared between “Powercut” by Douglas Hodge and “Do You Want A Baby, Baby” by Dougal Irvine from The Busker’s Opera.
2011: Jointly awarded to Tim Sutton for “I Am” and Eric Angus and Paul James for “Kaboom! Kapow!’” from The Boy Who Fell Into A Book.
2010: Gwyneth Herbert has enjoyed a full production of her musical The A to Z of Mrs P at Southwark Playhouse featuring her winning song “Lovely London Town”. She is currently working on a new project with her writing partner on that show, Diane Samuels.
2009: Olly Ashmore for “Wake Up TV” from Hot Flush 2.
2008: Mark Allcorn for “My Turn Soon” from Singles.