Though its West End season last year was short-lived despite five-star rave reviews and premiere success at the Lyric Hammersmith, alt-rock musical Spring Awakening once again proved itself to be the critics’ choice today by winning Best Musical in the 21st annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, announced today (26 January 2010) in the Delfont Room at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

Subsidised theatres overall swept the boards at the Critics’ Circle with two awards for the Lyric Hammersmith – in addition to Spring Awakening, Punk Rock’s star Tom Sturridge collected the gong for Most Promising Newcomer – three for the Donmar Warehouse and four for the Royal Court, continuing its triumphant – and identical - roll after the Evening Standard Awards (See News, 23 Nov 2009).

Two of the Court’s wins were for the premiere of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem, which starts performances at the West End’s Apollo Theatre on Thursday: Best New Play and Best Actor for Mark Rylance. Meanwhile, Rupert Goold took home another Best Director gong for Enron, the Headlong production which had its London premiere at the Court (after initial dates at Chichester Festival Theatre) and also opens in the West End this week.

And the Court nabbed the critics’ award for Most Promising Playwright for a third year in a row, this time for Alia Bano who made her debut in the Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs with Shades.

Another repeat win from the Evening Standard Awards, Rachel Weisz was named Best Actress for her performance as Blanche Dubois in the Donmar Warehouse revival of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.

The Donmar’s two other awards today were for: Best Shakespearean Performance for Jude Law for his title role in Michael Grandage’s Donmar West End production of Hamlet, which subsequently transferred to Broadway; and Best Designer for Christopher Oram for the Donmar’s current production of Red, John Logan’s play about painter Mark Rothko.

Today’s Critics’ Circle Awards coincide with the last-ever South Bank Show Awards, for which Jerusalem, A Streetcar Named Desire and Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art have been shortlisted for the Theatre category (See News, 7 Jan 2010).

Many of today winners and nominees are also in the running for the TENTH ANNUAL Awards, the only major theatre prize-giving decided by the public, for which online voting concludes on Monday 31 January 2010, with winners’ trophies presented on Sunday 14 February 2010 at the Awards Concert, also held at the Prince of Wales Theatre (although in the 1,100-seat auditorium) hosted by Sheridan Smith (See News, 19 Jan 2010). The awards season culminates with the Laurence Olivier Awards, which are announced this year on Sunday 21 March 2010.

NOTE: Photos and further reporting from the Critics’ Circle Awards and South Bank Show Awards will be posted later today. Please check back for updates…

The full list of winners for the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards 2009 are as follows:

Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth - Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
(Award presented to Butterworth by the Independent on Sunday’s Kate Bassett)

The Peter Hepple Award for BEST MUSICAL
Spring Awakening - Lyric Hammersmith, followed by transfer to Novello Theatre
(Award presented to producers Matthew Byam Shaw, Joe Smith and Michael McCabe by Ian Shuttleworth of the Financial Times and Theatre Record)

Mark Rylance for Jerusalem - Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
(Award presented to Rylance by The Times’ Benedict Nightingale)

Rachel Weisz for A Streetcar Named Desire - Donmar Warehouse
(Award presented to Weisz by the Evening Standard’s Fiona Mountford)

The John and Wendy Trewin Award for BEST SHAKESPEAREAN PERFORMANCE
Jude Law for Hamlet - Donmar West End at Wyndham’s Theatre (Awards presented to Law by Metro’s Claire Allfree)

Rupert Goold for Enron - Headlong at Minerva Theatre, Chichester & the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
(Award presented to Goold by the Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer)

Christopher Oram for Red - Donmar Warehouse
(Award presented to Oram by the Observer’s Susannah Clapp)

Alia Bano for Shades - Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs
(Award presented to Bano by the Guardian’s Michael Billington)

Tom Sturridge for Punk Rock - Lyric Hammersmith
(Award presented to Sturridge by Variety’s David Benedict)

Agree or disagree with the critics?
For the full list of Awards
nominations & to vote – click here.