The South Bank Show Award adds to the Donmar's haul of three Critics' Circle Awards, which were also announced today (See Today's Other News).
A Streetcar Named Desire, which was directed by Rob Ashford and starred Rachel Weisz (Blanche DuBois), Elliot Cowan (Stanley Kowalski) and Ruth Wilson (Stella) beat off competition in the Theatre category from Jez Butterworth and Alan Bennett’s new plays, Jerusalem and The Habit of Art (See News, 7 Jan 2010).
Michael Grandage, the Donmar’s artistic director, said: “2009 was undoubtedly one of the most important years in the Donmar's history and I am delighted Hamlet, A Streetcar Named Desire and Red have all been recognised in four separate awards today.
“These productions represent our commitment to deliver work of the highest quality and to engage with as many people as possible. It is wonderful to have our work honoured in this way.”
The ceremony saw the first public performance of the title song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's forthcoming new musical Love Never Dies, sung by Sierra Boggess and accompanied by Lloyd Webber and Louise Hunt on two grand pianos. The composer's brother Julian also performed at the event, playing the iconic South Bank Show theme - his sibling's "Variations".
Other awards presented included the Arts Council England's Diversity Award, which went to playwright and performance artist Julie McNamara, the Opera Award, which went to the ENO's Peter Grimes, and the Dance Award, which was awarded to David Bintley's E=mc2 at the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
South Bank Show presenter Melvyn Bragg picked up the Outstanding Achievement Award, having received video tributes from figures including Prince Charles, who attacked ITV's decision to axe the show and warned against the arts sliding into "oblivion" as a result.
Bragg, who as always hosted the event, said afterwards that it felt "very strange" to be receiving an award himself, before admitting he was "very sad, baffled but very grateful for the appreciation shown by so many great artists." (Listen to audio below.)
The South Bank Show Awards will be broadcast on ITV1 on 31 January.