Spacey wins kudo for 'Richard II'

“Billy Elliot The Musical” continued its winning ways, tapped as top tuner at Blighty’s Critics’ Circle Theater Awards on Tuesday, while Richard Bean’s “Harvest” was named best new play.

Michael Grandage, announced earlier that day as the director of the revival of “Evita,” picked up the director prize for Ibsen’s “The Wild Duck” at the Donmar.

Thesp prizes went to Simon Russell Beale for “The Philanthropist” and Eve Best for “Hedda Gabler.”

Kevin Spacey won the Shakespearean performance prize for his work in Trevor Nunn’s “Richard II.”

Designer trophy went to Timothy Bird and David Farley for “Sunday in the Park With George.” Laura Wade was named most promising playwright for “Breathing Corpses” and “Colder Than Here.”

The win was especially sweet for Spacey, who has had a rough ride from the critics during his 18-month tenure as artistic director at the Old Vic, which prompted him to joke: “This is from the critics, right?” He then added, “We’re happy to bury the hatchet.”

“I was quite terrified of taking on the role of an English king and trying to be convincing in both the language and the accent in a performance that made some sense, but didn’t necessarily come in a tradition of how Richards had been attacked before,” he said. “I’m enormously proud to have brought Shakespeare back to the Old Vic.”

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more