Stiles + Drewe announce New Mentorship Award for Musical Theatre Writers

Olivier Award-winning writing duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe today announce they are to offer an annual award to help support and develop new musical theatre writing in the UK. For its first three years, the award will be fully funded by the world’s leading theatrical licensing agency Music Theatre International (MTI), to coincide with the opening of its European office in London, Music Theatre International (Europe).

Stiles and Drewe – who will première three new shows in 2016 – are best known for their scores for HONK!, BETTY BLUE EYES and the new music and lyrics for the worldwide smash-hit Disney/Cameron Mackintosh production of MARY POPPINS which is currently touring the UK.

The inaugural MTI Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award offers writers a unique level of mentorship and support to help develop a new musical, as well as substantially raising the recipient’s profile in the industry. 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 the next generation of musical theatre writing talent.

Building on the success of the Stiles + Drewe Best New Song Prize – now in its 9th year, the new Mentorship Award addresses the need for a writer-led, sustained development programme. Stiles and Drewe and a panel of multi-disciplinary industry judges will select one new musical and its writers to receive mentorship over a twelve-month period. The writers will benefit from monthly writers’ labs, a one-week writing retreat, and two panel-led progress labs. The year’s mentorship will culminate in an industry showcase.

Stiles and Drewe will continue to offer their Best New Song Prize to run alongside the new Mentorship Award. This Prize recognises an outstanding song from a new musical and is offered in conjunction with the Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year Award at an annual West End gala, produced by Mercury Musical Developments. The winner receives a prize of £1,000 to put towards developing their work. Previous judges have included Matthew Scott, Head of Music at the National Theatre; Tony Award-winning orchestrator Sarah Travis; Broadway composer Andrew Lippa; Head of Josef Weinberger publishing and Head of MTI Europe Seán Gray and Director Jeremy Sams.

Stiles and Drewe said today, “Writing a good musical is really hard. We were lucky enough to receive advice and support from some of the best in the industry, including Cameron, during the early years of our careers. Together with MMD, we’ve long been championing new writers in the UK and we hope this new Mentorship Award will really make a difference to the quality of musical theatre writing in the UK.”

Sir Cameron Mackintosh, MTI’s majority owner, said, “As musicals continue to grow in popularity across the globe, MTI is expanding too with new offices in London and Melbourne.  Supporting this innovative award reinforces my commitment both to the responsible expansion of all the work of our brilliant team at MTI and the development of new musical writing in the UK.  Personally, the timing of this welcome initiative couldn’t be better as it coincides with my working again with George and Anthony and book writer Julian Fellowes on a completely new version of “Half A Sixpence”, based on the HG Wells novel “Kipps” at Chichester this summer.

“I have worked with George and Anthony for over 30 years having produced their first musical “Just So”, so I can’t think of any writing collaboration better versed in the challenges of a career in the musical theatre or have more knowledge of the highs and lows that inevitably come with writing any new musical.

“Often living on a shoe string, surviving disappointments as they learn their craft, while keeping their passion to write what they truly believe in is what marks George and Anthony out as one of the few truly original musical writing teams in the UK.  They are the ideal pair to mentor the next generation of musical writers with their hard earned wisdom and knowledge of the endless work and joy involved in the creation of this rare but much loved art.”

MTI Europe’s Managing Director Seán Gray added, “Nurturing new work and supporting writers is essential if musical theatre is to continue flourishing. We have represented Stiles and Drewe’s musicals for almost 20 years and it is wonderful that they plan to share their experience and expertise with emerging writers in this way.  We’re really looking forward to seeing the work that emerges from this award.”

Mercury Musical Developments will administrate the Mentorship Award in addition to the Best New Song Prize via a single submission process. MMD is a membership organisation that nurtures new musical writing in the UK. Stiles and Drewe are founding board members.

Executive Director of MMD Victoria Saxton said, “Part of MMD’s mission is to ensure that the UK continues to be the home of excellent and innovative musical. We’re delighted to be working with Stiles and Drewe on their new Mentorship Award as there is currently no such scheme in the UK that provides this type of support for emerging writers.”

Submissions are being accepted from today, Monday 8 February and close at 23.59 on Wednesday 9 March. To find out more and apply go to or


How to Submit:

Writers simultaneously enter both the ‘Mentorship Award’ and the ‘Best New Song Prize’ via one submission process. Whilst there is no entry fee, writers must be members of MMD either as a “Writer Associate” or as a “Professional Writer Associate”. Eligibility criteria for the latter and MMD membership fees are listed here:

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:

  • A synopsis no longer than 500 words
  • A full character list
  • A full track list
  • A completed cover sheet and check list [available on the MMD website]


  • From the draft of the musical, entrants must submit three 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 Prize’. 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.
  • 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 This should contain a Dropbox link which gives access to all the files/documents listed above as well as 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 accordingly we will be unable to download your application.


Deadlines: Submissions open: Monday 8 February 2016 / Submissions close: 23.59 on Wednesday 9 March 2016 / Finalists announced: Friday 15 April 2016 / Mentorship Award and Best New Song Prize winners announced: Sunday 15 May 2016 (at a West End gala – details to be announced).