The famous faces in The Savoy ballroom on Sunday night were enough to make anyone a bit giddy. I was lucky to join stars Judi Dench, Anna Wintour, Bill Nighy, Damian Lewis, Ian McKellen, Colin Firth and Danny Boyle to celebrate the capital’s best theatre, at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2012.
Compere James Corden opened the ceremony with a cheeky song called “For the love of awards”, reminding us that he has a tip-top singing voice as well as plenty of wit. The night had some serious moments too: double award-winner Nicholas Hytner spoke passionately in support of public funding for the arts, and Judi Dench was moved by a special award.
THE BIG WINNERS
Everyone’s favourite Bond matriarch was awarded the Moscow Art Theatre Golden Seagull Award, a golden bird-shaped broach that signifies her achievements in bringing London theatre to the world’s attention. “I’ll never take it off,” she declared.
After he got the Queen to jump out of a helicopter (or so it seemed) in the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, it’s fitting that Danny Boyle’s extraordinary £27 million production should get special recognition. He and his team scooped up the Beyond Theatre Award for pushing the boundaries of theatre with the ceremony, which was arguably the best – and certainly the biggest – performance of the year.
The director of the National Theatre picked up the Best Director award for setting the little-known Shakespeare play Timon of Athens in modern times. Hytner also won the Lebedev Special Award in recognition of his ten-year leadership of the National Theatre, which has seen him bring War Horse and One Man, Two Guvnors to the stage.
One to watch – Matthew Tennyson
Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Hardy won the Outstanding Newcomer Award in their early days, so it’s worth keeping your eye on young actor Matthew Tennyson who won this year’s prize for his role in Making Noise Quietly at the Donmar Warehouse.
PLAYS TO SEE
The Judas Kiss
The Judas Kiss, a play about Oscar Wilde was on everyone’s lips at the awards, despite not being nominated. It received glowing praise from National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner, who described Rupert Everett’s performance as one of the best on the London stage for years.
Writer Nick Payne won the award for Best Play for Constellations, becoming the youngest person to the category at just 29. It’s a tender story of love, awkwardness and string theory, using physics as a metaphor for life.
Named Best Musical at the awards, this tale of a homicidal barber could convince even those allergic to musical theatre to burst into song. Stephen Sondheim’s score for Sweeney Todd is delicious in its complexity, and leading duo Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton are musical royalty.
Have you seen any of the award-winners? Or have you seen some theatre recently that deserves an award?