The first of this year’s annual theatre awards was hosted by Stephen Fry, with Damian Lewis, Sir Ian McKellen, Diana Vickers and Martin Freeman among the guests.
It was a fine evening for the National Theatre and the Royal Court, each collecting gongs in a number of categories.
The Hollywood actor Liam Neeson took to the stage to present the award for Best Actress, renamed last year in honour of his late wife Natasha Richardson. Nancy Carroll picked up the award for her stunning performance in the Terrence Rattigan revival of After the Dance, staged in rep at the NT Lyttelton. She said the accolade was “a big, fat sparkling cherry on an already iced lovely cake.”
The National were also successful in three other categories. Rory Kinnear was named Best Actor for his title performance in Nicholas Hytner’s Hamlet, currently playing to glowing reviews at the NT Olivier – and for his Angelo in Measure for Measure last year at the Almeida Theatre.
Howard Davis picked up Best Director for his revival of The White Guard at the National and for his West End revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Apollo Theatre.
The Royal Court was back on form again this year, matching the National’s success with four awards. The American playwright Bruce Norris’ picked up Best Play for Clybourne Park, which is set for a transfer to the west end in February 2011.
The Court were clearly delighted for Anya Reiss who won Most Promising Playwright for Spur of the Moment, a play that originated while on the theatre’s young writers scheme. The young writer will also receive £3,000 as part of the prize.
21 year old Daniel Kaluuva was awarded a special “Shooting Star” award for his performance in boxing drama Sucker Punch at the theatre.
Meanwhile, Director Sir Peter Hall (pictured right) was honoured for his contribution to world theatre with the Golden Seagul prize. Hall used his moment in the spotlight to speak out over the “insane” arts cuts.
The theatre veteran, who recently turned 80, appealed for the industry to make “loud noises” and admitted that he felt “ill at the thought of over 50 years thrown away.”
Sir Michael Gambon also received the Lebedev Special Award for his work in British theatre.
Other winners included:
Best Musical – Passion – Donmar Warehouse
Best Design – Miriam Buether for Sucker Punch (Royal Court) and Earthquakes In London (National Theatre, Cottesloe)
Best Newcomers – You Me Bum Bum Train, created by Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd (LEB Building, E2)