Nicholas Hytner, Director of the National Theatre, collected two awards at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards yesterday.
Hytner, who has been at the helm of the Southbank institution for nearly a decade, picked up the Best Director Award for his interpretation of Shakespeare’s Timon Of Athens, along with the Lebedev Special Award for his ‘dynamic directorship’ of the National Theatre.
The latter was presented to Hytner by his Timon leading man, Simon Russell Beale – soon to be seen in Privates On Parade in the West End – who himself won the night’s Best Actor Award, not for the Bard’s drama but for new play Collaborators, in which he played Stalin.
Away from the National Theatre, there were celebrations for the Royal Court, whose production of Constellations – now playing at the Duke of York’s theatre – won Best Play for Nick Payne who, at 29, becomes the youngest ever recipient of the award.
Hattie Morahan, currently starring in the Almeida theatre’s The Dark Earth And The Light Sky, collected the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress for her performance as Nora in the Young Vic’s production of A Doll’s House, a role, theatregoers who didn’t have a chance to see the award-winning performance will be glad to know, she will recreate in 2013.
Soutra Gilmour collected the prize for Best Design for her work on the Donmar Warehouse’s Inadmissible Evidence, while Lolita Chakrabarti, previously better known as an actress, won the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright for her tale of 19th century black actor Ira Aldridge, Red Velvet, which was staged at the Tricycle theatre and starred her husband, Adrian Lester.
Matthew Tennyson picked up the Milton Shulton Award for Outstanding Newcomer for his performance in Making Noise Quietly, and London theatre veterans Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton helped Sweeney Todd, one of the hottest tickets in London this summer, win the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical.
Among the special award recipients, who were not part of any shortlist, but deemed worthy of recognition none the less, were David Hare, who was given the Editor’s Award for his four decades of work as a political playwright, Danny Boyle and his team, winners of the Beyond Theatre award for their work on the Olympic opening ceremony, NSFW director Simon Godwin, who won the Burberry Award for Emerging Director, and Dame Judi Dench, recipient of the Moscow Art Theatre’s Golden Seagull, who was recognised for raising the profile of London theatre globally.
High profile guests and presenters who dropped into the Savoy Hotel to celebrate a fantastic year for theatre included Colin Firth, Damian Lewis, Gemma Arterton, Ruth Wilson, Ralph Fiennes, Ian McKellen, Eileen Atkins, Mario Testino and host James Corden.
Following the Theatre Awards UK, the Evening Standard Theatre Awards whet the appetite for theatre awards season, which following the WhatsOnStage and Critics’ Circle Awards, culminates with the year’s most prestigious prize, the Olivier Awards with MasterCard, which, in 2013, will be announced on 28 April at a star-studded, surprise-filled evening at the Royal Opera House.