Not very surprisingly, there was zero overlap this year between the choices of the audiences and the critics in the annual head-to-head of theatre awards. Although all but one of today's nine Critics' Circle winners figured in the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Awards, none of them triumphed in the popular vote involving more than 16,000 people, the results of which were released today (See Today's Other News).

The Critics' Circle was, however, in broad agreement with the Evening Standard - whose awards were announced in November (See News, 25 Nov 2002) - certainly so in the three major categories of Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Director.

At the 2002 Critics' Circle Awards - presented at a lunchtime ceremony today at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane - these honours went once again to, respectively, Clare Higgins (for Vincent in Brixton), Simon Russell Beale (for the double bill of Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night at the Donmar Warehouse) and to Sam Mendes (also for the double bill, his swansong productions after ten years as Donmar artistic director).

Another production of Twelfth Night, this one at Shakespeare's Globe, earned Mark Rylance the Critics' award for Best Shakespearean Performance - though he rather angrily deferred the distinction in favour of his entire company (See Today’s Goss - while the prize for Best Musical went to Trevor Nunn's current revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes which, opened in December 2002, was ineligible for both the Evening Standard and Whatsonstage.com awards this year.

Other Critics' Circle winners were: Peter Gill's The York Realist (Best New Play), actress Alison Pargeter (Most Promising Newcomer for Damsels in Distress), Charlotte Eilenberg (Most Promising Playwright for The Lucky Ones) and William Dudley (Best Designer for The Coast of Utopia).

This is the 14th year of the Critics' Circle Drama Section's Theatre Awards. The Circle is a professional organisation established in 1913 for those making a living out of criticism. This year's Critics' Circle Awards are presented in association with Theatregoer magazine.

The full list of winners from this year's Critics' Circle Awards is as follows:

BEST NEW PLAY - The York Realist by Peter Gill

BEST MUSICAL - Anything Goes

BEST ACTOR - Simon Russell Beale for Uncle Vanya & Twelfth Night (Donmar Warehouse)

BEST ACTRESS - Clare Higgins for Vincent in Brixton

BEST SHAKESPEAREAN PERFORMANCE - Mark Rylance for Twelfth Night (Shakespeare's Globe)

BEST DIRECTOR - Sam Mendes for Uncle Vanya & Twelfth Night (Donmar Warehouse)

BEST DESIGNER - William Dudley for The Coast of Utopia

MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT - Charlotte Eilenberg for The Lucky Ones

MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER - Alison Pargeter for Damsels in Distress

- by Terri Paddock


To view the full list of winners and nominees from 2003 Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Theatre Awards (covering the 2002 theatre year), click here.