The 66th Evening Standard Theatre Awards were both happy and emotional.

Last night’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards presentation was filled with passion. Dame Vanessa Redgrave talked in anguished detail about her father. “Our kid f***ing smashed it,” Stephen Graham remarked of Jodie Comer. “We are brutally good at what we do,” producer and theatre owner Nica Burns exclaimed.

After a two-year pandemic break, the nation’s oldest theatre awards, created in 1955, were back, just like the sector they honour. Owner of the newspaper Lord Lebedev sponsored the awards at the Ivy in West Street in collaboration with Garrard.

The roster of winners, which was exceptionally young and diverse as well as star-studded, demonstrated the resilience of London theater’s revival. For their outstanding performances in Cyrano de Bergerac and Prima Facie, both at the Harold Pinter Theatre, respectively, James McAvoy, 43, and Comer, 29, took home the Best Actor and Best Actress Natasha Richardson Awards. In Glasgow and Liverpool, both are from working-class origins.

Due to filming in Italy, McAvoy was unable to attend. But Sheridan Smith, the evening’s emcee and a future cast member of Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine, read out a message from him to everyone in attendance: “Drink something toxic and get your dancing on.”
Actress Comer from Killing Eve talked about how Prima Facie transformed her both emotionally and professionally. She had never performed on stage before; next year, she will bring Prima Facie to Broadway. She first appeared in this one-woman show about sexual assault and the law.

After receiving the trophy from her friend and mentor, Graham, she remarked, “It’s probably the thing I am most proud of in my life and winning this award means a lot.

The Milton Shulman Award for Best Director went to Lynette Linton, 32, for her National Theatre production of Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky. The award is named after the former theatre and cinema critic for the Standard. She is the first woman of colour and only the sixth woman overall to win in the directing category since it was established in 1981. It hasn’t really sunk in, so I’m a little emotional about it, she admitted. In her tribute, she thanked the early black theatre pioneers who had paved the way for her.

The cast of her production, which included Samira Wiley, Giles Terera, and Ronke Adékoluejo, garnered nominations in the acting categories, while the Bush Theatre, whose artistic director she is, received four nominations overall.
Tyrell Williams’ Red Pitch, which follows three black teens as they negotiate friendship, adulthood, and gentrification on a football field on a London slum estate, received an unprecedented number of nominations for Best Play and won the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright.

Williams, 28, based the drama on his own recollections of football games he used to play on the Aylesbury Estate, where he currently resides. Winning this is an honour and will be great for his future career, he remarked. The award was bestowed in honour of her father by Dame Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, artistic director, and global content adviser for Condé Nast.

The Theatre Awards were established in 1955 by Charles Wintour, a former editor of the Evening Standard. He was the publication’s deputy editor at the time.

Isobel McArthur, the Pride and Prejudice* (kind of) co-director, adapter, and performer, received the Emerging Talent Award, which is often given to an actor. The show, which relocated from Glasgow to surprise spectators at the Criterion, told Jane Austen’s story through the use of karaoke and from the perspective of the servants. According to McArthur, 33, who previously trained and worked in Scotland, “it signals a change for me into something more Britain-wide in terms of recognition.”
Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley’s Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club quickly rose to the top of the West End’s most talked-about productions as theatre made a comeback. Tom Scutt won the prize for best design thanks to its stunning appearance. Scutt expressed his gratitude and feeling of honour at being able to collect the award on behalf of everyone present. “This level of collaboration, which you always aspire to but which doesn’t always happen, has enormous force.”

The Young Vic had a successful year, just like the Bush. The so-called “sexy” Oklahoma! was transferred from New York to the south London powerhouse, which removed the cosier accretions to uncover the passionate, austere, and grim core of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 musical.

The origin of Daniel Fish and Jordan Fein’s show may be traced back to Fish’s 15-year-old direction of a student performance at NY’s Bard College. Two months prior to its transfer to the West End, the London version, which included a cast that was a mix of British and American actors, won the Best Musical award yesterday night. The only surviving member of the original cast, 36-year-old Patrick Vaill, who has played the ominous Jud Fry in every production of the piece since 2007, won the Best Musical Performance Award. Beyond anyone’s reasonable expectation of life, he remarked, “to be received by the audience and the city in this way.”

Additionally, the year’s best play was presented at The Young Vic. The current collapse of political commentary can be traced back to William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal’s antagonistic coverage of the 1968 Presidential debates, according to James Graham’s Best of Enemies.

With five-star reviews for the West End adaptation of Jeremy Herrin’s production, it was a given from the start and won the award. The 40-year-old Graham added, “I still have all the doubts and imposter syndrome that any writer has, so it’s extremely good to be recognised.” He also performed this year the great musical Tammy Faye, which is about televangelism in 1980s America, and has recently provided Sherwood and Quiz to TV audiences for their amusement.
Lord Lebedev’s special honours honouring two people for their contributions to London theatre topped off a standout group of winners.

The first went to Dame Vanessa Redgrave, who made her acting debut in 1958 and made her stage comeback at the age of 85 in My Fair Lady at the Coliseum, nearly shortly after the lockdown ended. Dame Vanessa Redgrave was introduced by her daughter Joely Richardson and gave a moving speech about the community and art of acting while also paying tribute to her late father Sir Michael Redgrave.

The group that owns six West End Theatres and was the first to reopen its venues after each relaxation of lockdown regulations was given the second special prize, which went to Nica Burns, chief executive officer and co-owner of Nimax. The @sohoplace Theatre, which Burns, 68, recently launched, is the first purpose-built West End theatre in 50 years. In front of a cheering audience in the private dining room of the Ivy, she declared, “Let’s say it, we are damned good at what we do.” People are amused by us.
After a fun-filled and occasionally boisterous evening, Lord Lebedev declared: “I am happy to celebrate the greatest of London theatre with the gifted authors, actors, directors, and producers who brought the West End back to life. One of the paper’s greatest traditions, which I have terribly missed during the epidemic years, is one that I am also happy to revive.

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