×

Brits like to ‘Spend’

New tuner upstages 'King' at U.K. legit awards

LONDON — No award was bestowed for best play at the 45th annual Evening Standard Drama Awards Monday while new British tuner “Spend Spend Spend” surprisingly trumped “The Lion King” for best tuner.

The Disney screen-to-stage spectacular did not go unrewarded: Director Julie Taymor’s extravagant vision took the ultimate prize as theatrical event of the year, enabling the British judging panel to go the chauvinistic route in honoring dark-horse candidate “Spend Spend Spend.”

“This makes an enormous difference to us,” said Barbara Dickson, the show’s star, in accepting the prize at the lunchtime ceremony at the Savoy Hotel. “We haven’t actually had full houses up to now.”

“This will actually mean something,” Dickson added — though whether it will or not is up for grabs in a country where awards matter far less than they do in the U.S.

The best actor win for “The Real Thing” leading man Stephen Dillane will no doubt help that show’s imminent stand on Broadway, where the Tom Stoppard revival opens April 17.

Dillane accepted his prize via pre-recorded video, since he is in Poland filming a TV version of “Anna Karenina” for Britain’s Channel 4.

The best actress prize went to Janie Dee, whose show-stopping turn as a humanized robot in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Comic Potential” has been drawing thin crowds.

Best director went to Trevor Nunn for two National Theater revivals, “Summerfolk” and “The Merchant of Venice,” while Tim Hatley was named best designer for three plays: “Suddenly Last Summer,” “Sleep With Me” and “The Darker Face of the Earth.”

For the first time ever, an American writer — Rebecca Gilman, for the Royal Court’s “The Glory of Living” — was named most promising playwright. Martin McDonagh, Conor McPherson and David Hare are among the previous recipients of the prize.

In a new category, recent drama school grad Eve Best was named outstanding newcomer for her performance as Jude Law’s incestuous sister in the Young Vic revival of “‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore.”

Belfast native Martin Rea, 20, received the special Patricia Rothermere Award, which provides tuition and subsistence for a student’s three years at drama school.

“I hope (my parents) realize now it’s not too bad being an actor,” said Rea, who is in his tenth week of classes at RADA, London’s most prestigious drama school.

Among the presenters, a poignant note was sounded by John Hurt in his tribute to Quentin Crisp, the New York-based eccentric and raconteur who died Sunday at age 90. (Hurt famously played Crisp onscreen in “The Naked Civil Servant.”)

Extolling “a man to whom in many ways I owe my career,” Hurt called English expatriate Crisp “one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived.”

More Legit

  • Alexander Dinelaris

    'Jekyll and Hyde' Movie in the Works Based on Broadway Musical

    The Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde” is getting the movie treatment from Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris. Dinelaris, who is writing and producing the adaptation, won an Oscar for the “Birdman” script and was a co-producer on “The Revenant.” He is producing “Jekyll and Hyde” as the first project under his New York-based development company, [...]

  • Sam Mendes

    Listen: The 'Balls-Out Theatricality' of Sam Mendes

    If you find yourself directing a Broadway play with a cast so big it includes a goose, two rabbits, more kids than you can count and an actual infant, what do you do? If you’re Sam Mendes, you embrace the “balls-out theatricality” of it all. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “There is a kind [...]

  • James Corden Tony Awards

    James Corden to Host 2019 Tony Awards (EXCLUSIVE)

    James Corden has been tapped to once again host the Tony Awards, Variety has learned exclusively. “The Late Late Show” host previously emceed the annual theater awards show in 2016, and won the Tony for best actor in a play for his performance in “One Man, Two Guvnors” in 2012. “I’m thrilled to be returning to [...]

  • Frozen review Broadway

    ‘Frozen’ the Musical Opening in London in 2020

    “Frozen” the musical is coming to London and will open in the West End in fall 2020. The Michael Grandage-directed Disney Theatrical Productions stage show has been on Broadway for a year. Grandage’s production is now set to re-open Andrew Lloyd Webber’s refurbished Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are behind the [...]

  • Nantucket Sleigh Ride review

    Off Broadway Review: John Guare's 'Nantucket Sleigh Ride'

    Anyone who doesn’t have a cottage on the Cape or the Islands, as they say in Massachusetts, might be puzzled by the title of John Guare’s new play.  “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” is no Revere Beach amusement park ride, but an old whaling term for the death throes of a whale that is still attached to [...]

  • Kiss Me Kate review

    Broadway Review: 'Kiss Me, Kate'

    No, Kate doesn’t get spanked. And for those wondering how the dicey ending of “Kiss Me, Kate” — that musical mashup of “The Taming of the Shrew” and backstage battling exes — would come across in these more sensitive times, well, that’s also been reconsidered for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival of the Cole [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    West End Review: Tom Hiddleston in 'Betrayal'

    It takes three to tango, and Jamie Lloyd’s “Betrayal” completely grasps that. Having made it his mission to modernize the way we stage Harold Pinter’s plays, his chic, stripped-down staging starring Tom Hiddleston as a cuckolded husband might be his best attempt yet. Pared back and played out on an empty stage, this masterful play [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content