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Graduating actors compete for top prizes: Sondheim Competition

During the final year of RBC’s BA (Hons) Acting degree, all actors have the chance to represent the school in any of the industry competitions that run throughout the year.

There are two rounds of internal auditions prior to the Sondheim competition, this determines the individuals that will represent Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. This is also an invaluable opportunity to practice audition techniques and receive feedback from working industry professionals before graduation.

What is the Sondheim Competition?

This annual competition sees 12 of the UK's finest students of musical theatre and drama compete for a £1,000 prize by singing a Sondheim song of their choice. Also up for grabs is the £1,000 Best New Song prize, awarded by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe to the creators of an original piece of musical theatre writing by a member of Mercury Musical Developments. Plus, the coveted MTI Stiles+Drewe Mentorship Award – a year of guidance and bespoke mentorship – is awarded to the writers of a new musical that shows the most potential.

The Sondheim experience - Katie Forster

Katie Forster, third year BA (Hons) Acting: 

I was selected to represent RBC for the Sondheim Award after an internal selection process. Initially there was a set of first round auditions, and everyone who got through to the recall stage performs a solo song at an internal competition. A guest adjudicator attends this stage to judge the performances and the whole school is also invited to come and watch. I think it’s great that RBC selects their representatives this way; it means that any graduating student can audition, and everyone receives an equal opportunity so the process is kept really fair. Myself and Seb Yates Cridland were chosen to represent RBC at the main competition in London. 

The Sondheim Society then holds initial auditions for all of the nominees put forward by each drama school. At this stage each student performs one Sondheim song in front of a panel. At my audition I sang Moments in the Woods from Into the Woods. Twelve students, out of about seventy, are then selected to perform in the final, which has been held in famous theatres such as The Savoy in previous years. 

Being chosen to represent RBC at Sondheim was definitely one of my highlights from drama school. It was so much fun getting to perform a song I loved, and I felt very grateful for the opportunity! 

Find out more about our Department of Acting