Public theater sets Standard kudos pace

National Theater tops list with three wins

LONDON — Subsidized theater took the lion’s share of prizes Monday at the 52nd Evening Standard Theater Awards, with only one of 10 honors going to a production that originated in the commercial West End — and even that one came via New York.

Sole winner from the nonsubsidized sector was Kathleen Turner, who collected the actress prize for her perf as Martha in the London transfer of Anthony Page’s Broadway revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

The other awards presented during a lunch ceremony at London’s Savoy Hotel went to productions originating in publicly subsidized theater and small off-West End venues.

The National Theater topped the list, with Marianne Elliot taking the director nod for Ibsen’s “Pillars of the Community,” “Caroline, or Change” winning for musical and actor Andrew Garfield bagging outstanding newcomer for perfs in five productions, four of them at the National.

Tom Stoppard’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll” at the Royal Court won best play, while its star Rufus Sewell drew actor honors.

At the other end of the scale, Nina Raine won most promising playwright for her own production of her caustically funny “Rabbit” at the tiny Old Red Lion pub theater. Unlike the other awards on offer, this one comes with a £30,000 ($58,000) check.

Accepting the award, Raine, 31, a former assistant director to the National’s Nicholas Hytner, pointed out that last year she earned a total of $17,000. “And that was a good year,” she said. “This award and check will be life-changing.”

Raine’s play is tipped to travel to the U.S. next year.

Tony Kushner, Jeanine Tesori and George C. Wolfe all flew in to accept the musical award for “Caroline,” which they won against stiff competition from “Evita,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot” and “Sunday in the Park With George.” The last won for design and is sizing up venues for a proposed Broadway transfer in the spring.

The year’s most nominated production, Peter Morgan’s “Frost/Nixon,” missed out in four categories but walked away with a special award from Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley. That production, which originated at the Donmar Warehouse, also is scheduled for Broadway in 2007.

This year’s special award went to the pioneering Tricycle Theater, whose verbatim account docudramas based on public tribunals and political enquiries, such as “The Road to Guantanamo,” have gone from its northwest London home as far as afield as Washington’s Capitol Hill.

And the winners are:

PLAY: “Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Tom Stoppard (Royal Court, then Duke of York’s)

ACTOR: Rufus Sewell, “Rock ‘n’ Roll”

ACTRESS: Kathleen Turner, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (Apollo)

THE SYDNEY EDWARDS AWARD FOR DIRECTOR: Marianne Elliott, “Pillars of the Community” (National Theater)

THE CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT: Nina Raine, “Rabbit” (Old Red Lion, then Trafalgar Studios)

MUSICAL: “Caroline, or Change” (National Theater)

DESIGN: Timothy Bird and David Farley, “Sunday in the Park With George” (Menier Chocolate Factory, then Wyndham’s)

THE MILTON SHULMAN AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING NEWCOMER: Andrew Garfield for “Beautiful Thing” (Sound Theater); “Burn,” “Chatroom,” “Citizenship” (National Theater); and “The Overwhelming” (National Theater and Out of Joint)

EDITOR’S AWARD: “Frost/Nixon” (Donmar Warehouse, then Gielgud)

SPECIAL AWARD: The Tricycle Theater, for its pioneering work in political theater

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