Royal Court, National take four each of nine awards

Not-for-profit theaters seized all but one of the jewels in the crown of the 56th London Evening Standard Theater Awards held Sunday at the Savoy hotel.

In an evening of few major upsets, the exception was Jamie Lloyd’s Donmar Warehouse production of Sondheim’s “Passion,” which beat the highly fancied London production of “Legally Blonde” for musical.

Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park” took the play prize.Dominic Cooke’s Royal Court theater and Nicholas Hytner’s National theater each took home four of the nine competitive kudos. The results created an almost total shutout for West End theater. Even the sole award for a commercial production, Howard Davies’ director prize, was shared between his hit revival of “All My Sons” and “The White Guard” at the National.

The actor award went to Rory Kinnear for his Shakespearean double whammy of Angelo in “Measure for Measure” at the Almeida theater and the Dane in “Hamlet” at the National. Audiences worldwide — including those at 84 U.S. movie houses — can see the latter when the production is screened live on Dec. 9 as part of NTLive.

Nancy Carroll beat stiff competish to win the actress prize, an award renamed last year in memory of Natasha Richardson and presented this year by the late actress’ husband, Liam Neeson.

Youngest winner of the night was Anya Reiss, who nabbed most promising playwright for “Spur of the Moment” at the Royal Court. Her comedy of extreme family embarrassment was written when she was just 17.

For the first time, the most promising newcomer award was split. Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd won for “You Me Bum Bum Train,” a site-specific thrill ride with a cast of 200 that played to one audience member at a time. And a special Shooting Star award was created to honor Daniel Kaluuya for his performance in “Sucker Punch.”

Having broken the Royal Court’s box office records, Cooke’s exhilarating production of “Clybourne Park,” Norris’ caustic comedy about race, transfers to the West End’s Wyndham’s theater on Jan. 28.

Special awards went to Michael Gambon for his contribution to British theater, and the Evening Standard’s editor, Evgeny Lebedev, presented Peter Hall with the Moscow Arts Theater’s Golden Seagull Award for his contribution to world theater.

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