The free Champaign added sparkle to a star-studded evening at the Old Vic, where the winners of the 61st Theatre Awards were announced.
The Awards have been presented annually since 1955 and past winners include Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Stewart, Rachel Weisz, Sam Mendes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Helen Mirren and Tom Hiddleston.
Rob Brydon presented the evening with a touch of humour and wit.
The Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright, named in honour of the former Editor of the Evening Standard, went to Molly Davies for God Bless the Child staged at the Royal Court Upstairs. Apart from the heavy statuette, she received a cheque for £10,000, jointly donated by Anna Wintour and Evgeny Lebedev.
Nicole Kidman received the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress for her performance as Rosalind Franklin in Photograph 51 at the Noel Coward Theatre. On receiving the award she gave a moving short speech expressing her appreciation of the audience, her husband and all those who supported her throughout.
The Award for Best Actor was presented by Gillian Anderson to James McAvoy for his performance in The Ruling Class at Trafalgar Studios.
The award for Best Musical Performance went to Imelda Staunton for Gypsy at The Savoy Theatre. Staunton thanked all by singing Everything’s Coming Up Roses from the winning production. She stood tall and magnificent. Watching her perform, you know you are in the presence of one of theatre’s giants.
The Royal Court Theatre came away from the night with the most awards for a single venue! It won with Anna Fleischle’s design for the world première of Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen.
The award for Best Play went to The Motherf**ker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis – the only award won by the National Theatre from their seven shortlisted candidates. The production’s director, Indhu Rubasingham, collected on behalf of Adly Guirgis.
In the Best Director category, Robert Icke received his first Evening Standard Theatre Award for Oresteia. The production that opened the Almeida Greek Season recently completed its transfer run at the Trafalgar Studios.
The Evening Standard Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical, which was voted for by the public, went to Kinky Boots. Radio 2 presenter and musical theatre star Elaine Paige presented the award to the three stars from the show, Matt Henry, Amy Lennox and Killian Donnelly.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, the blockbuster exhibition at the V&A, was named recipient of the Beyond Theatre Award. Salma Hayek presented the award to McQueen’s Creative Director Sarah Burton, the show’s Sam Gainsbury, and the V&A Claire’s Wilcox and Nicholas Coleridge.
The Editor’s Award, in partnership with The Ivy, was presented to veteran of the stage Vanessa Redgrave. She picked up her statuette from daughter Joely Richardson and shortlisted actor Ralph Fiennes. Completing the evening, the Lebedev Award was presented by co-hosts Judi Dench and Ian McKellen to multi award-winning music legend Stephen Sondheim who celebrated his 85th birthday this year.
The splendid evening was directed by Sean Mathias.
Here is the list of the 61ST Annual London Evening Standard Theatre Awards:
Best Actor: James McAvoy, The Ruling Class, Trafalgar Studios
Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress: Nicole Kidman, Photograph 51, Noel Coward Theatre
Best Play: The Motherf**ker with the Hat (Stephen Adly Guirgis), National Theatre’s Lyttelton
Milton Shulman Award for Best Director: Robert Icke, Oresteia, Almeida Theatre & Trafalgar Studios
Best Design: Anna Fleischle, Hangmen, Royal Court
Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright: Molly Davies, God Bless the Child, Royal Court Upstairs
Emerging Talent Award in Partnership with Burberry: David Moorst, Violence and Son, Royal Court Upstairs
Best Musical Performance: Imelda Staunton, Gypsy, Savoy Theatre
Newcomer in a Musical: Gemma Arterton, Made in Dagenham, Adelphi Theatre
Evening Standard Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical (voted for by the public): Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre
Beyond Theatre – Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
Editor’s Award – Vanessa Redgrave
Lebedev Award – Stephen Sondheim
Gypsy is at the Savoy Theatre until Saturday and will be screened on BBC4 over the Christmas season. Hangmen is at Wyndham’s Theatre from December 1 to March 5 and Kinky Boots is at Adelphi Theatre, booking to May 28.