The Donmar Warehouse dominated today’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards, converting its six nominations into four big wins at a star-studded lunchtime ceremony hosted by Richard Wilson at the Royal Opera House (See News, 7 Nov 2008): Best Actor for Othello’s Chiwetel Ejiofor (pictured), jointly awarded Best Actress trophies to The Chalk Garden’s leading ladies Penelope Wilton and Margaret Tyzack, and Best Director for artistic director Michael Grandage in recognition of Othello, The Chalk Garden and Ivanov, the first offering in the Donmar West End season at Wyndham’s Theatre.

The Donmar’s closest rival in the theatrical tally is the Young Vic. Its production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, which ran for only a handful of performances, swept aside West End competition from La Cage Aux Folles and Marguerite (not to mention this year’s Broadway blockbuster Jersey Boys, which didn’t even make the shortlists) to win Best Musical.

The Young Vic’s recent American discovery, Tarell Alvin McCraney, 28-year-old author of In the Red and Brown Water and The Brothers Size, both staged at the Young Vic, was presented with the coveted Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright, one of the only times the prize – which comes with a cheque for £10,000 – has been given to a non-British writer. His fellow shortlisted contenders, Britons Bola Agbaje and Anumpama Chandresekhar, received £2,500 apiece.

The National Theatre, which has so often led the Evening Standard awards race, this year took home only one gong: Best Play for Lee Hall’s The Pitmen Painters, which originated at the Live Theatre, Newcastle.

Elsewhere, there were only two category wins for West End productions: Outstanding Newcomer for Fat Pig’s Ella Smith and Best Design for Brief Encounter’s Neil Murray. Two non-shortlisted trophies – the Editor’s Award and a one-off Special Award – were presented to, respectively, the Royal Shakespeare Company for the transfer of its epic eight-play Histories to the Roundhouse and Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey.

The Standard Awards - the first prize-giving of the awards season, ahead of the Critics’ Circle, the Laurence Olivier and Whatsonstage.com’s own audience-voted Theatregoers’ Choice Awards (click here to submit your nominations), all of which are announced in the new year – are decided by a panel of critics from the Mail on Sunday (Georgina Brown), Observer (Susannah Clapp), Times (Benedict Nightingale) and Daily Telegraph (Charles Spencer) as well as the Standard itself (Nicholas de Jongh), chaired by Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley.

- by Terri Paddock


The full shortlists of contenders – with winners denoted in bold - in this year’s 54th annual Evening Standard Theatre Awards, which covers openings up until the end of October 2008, are:

BEST PLAY

  • Black Watch - by Gregory Burke (National Theatre of Scotland at Barbican)
  • Now Or Later - by Christopher Shinn (Royal Court)
  • The Pitmen Painters - by Lee Hall (Live Theatre and National Theatre co-production)

    BEST ACTOR

  • Kenneth Branagh - Ivanov (Donmar West End at Wyndham\'s)
  • David Calder - King Lear (Shakespeare\'s Globe)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor - Othello (Donmar Warehouse)

    BEST ACTRESS

  • Lesley Sharp - Harper Regan (National\'s Cottesloe)
  • Margaret Tyzack - The Chalk Garden (Donmar Warehouse)
  • Penelope Wilton - The Chalk Garden (Donmar Warehouse)

    THE NED SHERRIN AWARD FOR BEST MUSICAL

  • La Cage Aux Folles - Menier Chocolate Factory and Playhouse
  • Marguerite - Theatre Royal Haymarket
  • Street Scene - The Opera Group, Young Vic and Watford Palace Theatre co-production

    THE SYDNEY EDWARDS AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR

  • Michael Boyd - The History Cycle (Royal Shakespeare Company at the Roundhouse)
  • Michael Grandage - Othello/The Chalk Garden/Ivanov (Donmar West End at Wyndham\'s and Donmar Warehouse)
  • John Tiffany - Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland at Barbican)

    BEST DESIGN

  • Miriam Buether - In The Red And Brown Water (Young Vic)
  • Rob Howell - The Norman Conquests (Old Vic)
  • Neil Murray - Brief Encounter (Kneehigh at The Cinema, Haymarket)

    THE MILTON SHULMAN AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING NEWCOMER

  • Felicity Jones - The Chalk Garden (Donmar Warehouse)
  • Lex Shrapnel - Henry IV Part I (Royal Shakespeare Company at The Roundhouse)
  • Ella Smith - Fat Pig (Trafalgar Studios and Comedy Theatre)

    THE CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT

  • Bola Agbaje - Gone Too Far (Royal Court)
  • Anupama Chandrasekhar - Free Outgoing (Royal Court)
  • Tarell Alvin McCraney - In The Red And Brown Water/The Brothers Size (Young Vic)

    SPECIAL AWARD

  • Kevin Spacey – for bringing new life to the Old Vic

    EDITOR’S AWARD

  • The Royal Shakespeare Company for the Histories cycle at the Roundhouse