On the same day that Hollywood import-turned-Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey “buried the hatchet” with critics, accepting this year’s Critics’ Circle Award for Best Shakespearean Performance (See News, 31 Jan 2005), he received an added boost from the public in our Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, also announced yesterday.

Spacey edged out Derek Jacobi in Don Carlos to win Best Actor for his title role in Trevor Nunn’s staging of Shakespeare’s history play, Richard II, which also scooped Best Shakespearean Production.

Meeting Whatsonstage.com to collect his trophies (pictured), Spacey said: “We were delighted that audiences reacted so warmly to our production of Richard II. It was a thrilling experience for me to take the challenge of the title role, particularly on the Old Vic stage and to be part of such a talented company of actors. Trevor Nunn is a remarkable director, and he created something we all felt was real special. It was wonderful to experience such a positive response from audiences during the run and to receive this award from theatregoers is an honour.”

The Old Vic won a fourth Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Ian McKellen making his pantomime dame debut in Aladdin, which was also named the Planet Hollywood Theatre Event of the Year.

Yesterday’s multi award-winning news came less than a fortnight after the announcement of this year’s Laurence Olivier Awards shorlists, in which the Old Vic did not receive a single nomination, not even for the critically acclaimed Richard II (See News, 18 Jan 2006).

Despite a drubbing in the press during a critically lacklustre inaugural season, the Whatsonstage.com audience has always been supportive of Spacey. In a Big Debate survey on the site in June 2005, 80% of theatregoers said that Spacey had done a good job in his first year at the Old Vic Theatre, three-quarters said he had succeeded in raising the Old Vic’s international reputation and 68% thought the media had been unfairly negative.

- by Terri Paddock

To view the full list of winners & nominees & voting percentages, click here. And look out for more awards presentations over the coming days & weeks.