Grandage named top director for drama trio
Michael Grandage and the Donmar Warehouse, the London theater of which he is a.d., emerged as the big winners at the 54th annual Evening Standard Theater Awards, held Monday at Londontown’s Royal Opera House.Grandage was named top director for three separate productions: “Othello” and “The Chalk Garden,” which played at the Donmar’s home, together with “Ivanov,” the opening production in the company’s yearlong, four-play season at the Wyndhams Theater on the West End. Evening Standard hands out just 10 legit trophies. Of those, both acting prizes went to performers in Grandage productions. Chiwetel Ejiofor won for his performance in the title role of “Othello,” and Penelope Wilton and Margaret Tyzack shared the laurel for actress for their performances in “The Chalk Garden.” The Young Vic, another off-West End venue, won two awards, beating strong competition from tuner productions of “La Cage aux Folles” and “Marguerite” to draw the musical nod for its revival of Kurt Weill’s Broadway opera “Street Scene.” American dramatist Tarrell Alvin McCraney took most promising playwright, an award that comes with a check for £10,000 (around $15,000). Scribe picked up the honor for two of his productions staged by the Young Vic, “The Brothers Size” and “In the Red and Brown Water.” The two runners-up — Bola Agbaje for “Gone Too Far” and Anupama Chandrasekhar for “Free Outgoing,” both at the Royal Court — each received a check for £2,500 ($3,800). Play plaudit went to Lee Hall (“Billy Elliot”) for “The Pitmen Painters” in the sole win for the National Theater. Although its run in the small Cottesloe auditorium has finished, the show returns to the National’s larger Lyttelton Theater on Jan. 27. All those awards went to not-for-profit theaters in a ceremony that represented a near shutout for the commercial West End. The exceptions were Neil Murray, who drew design kudos for Kneehigh Theater’s reimagining of David Lean’s “Brief Encounter” at the Cinema on the Haymarket, and actress Ella Smith, who nabbed the Milton Shulman Award for newcomer for her performance in “Fat Pig” at the Trafalgar Studios. Kevin Spacey received the Special Award for bringing new life to the Old Vic, with credit given to his theater’s in-the-round revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s serio-comic “The Norman Conquests” trilogy. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s epic cycle of the Bard’s eight History Plays at the Roundhouse won the discretionary Editor’s Award for a theater event or individual that has made headlines. Presenters at the ceremony included Jude Law, Kenneth Branagh, Josh Hartnett and David Tennant.