As the Christmas lights sparkled and twinkled on St Martins Lane, the cream of the British Theatre industry gathered to sparkle and twinkle themselves at the London Coliseum for the 65th Evening Standard awards. Joined by some screen royalty this was a glitzy evening in the capitol.
The event was hosted by Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the Evening Standard newspaper with Dame Anna Wintour the editor of Vogue. The main presenter for the evening was Cush Jumbo, herself a winner of the Evening Standard Emerging Talent Award back in 2013. She was assisted by Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis who opened the ceremony, coping well with the non-functioning auto-cue.
For the award show, the stalls seats had been removed and the area resembled a beautiful ballroom with tables set up for dinner for the nominees and invited guests. The dress and upper circles and the balcony was open for friends and family. Many of the tickets to the upper seats had been given to drama schools and clubs, allowing around 700 aspiring actors to watch the ceremony. As well as providing them with access, this opportunity enabled many of the presenters and winners to address the next generation directly.
After McCrory and Lewis’s opening, Cush Jumbo made her way through the auditorium in a shocking pink shell suit, dragging a small suitcase, apologising profusely for being late, before launching into a song and dance routine along with some students from the Musical Theatre course at the Brit School from where she is an alumni. Jumbo handled the presenting with aplomb, balancing mild political commentary with humour and challenging certain elements of the status quo in the confident manner of an actor with a massively successful US drama on her CV!
The first award was for Best Design sponsored and presented by Michael Kors who was joined on stage by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, another British actor making waves in America. Bunny Christie took the award for her design of The Bridge Theatre’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
From the first award on, the evening zipped by at pace. Award presenters included Taron Egerton, Sonia Friedman, Ruth Wilson and Sir Trevor Nunn. The biggest cheer of the evening was for Olivia Colman who presented the final award of the night for best play which went the American writer Lynn Nottage for the superb Sweat.
Sir Trevor Nunn presented the Editors Award to Sir Ian McKellen for his “On stage Tour”. Presumably, George Osborne, the current editor of the Evening Standard chose not to present the award himself. Given Sir Ian’s beautiful, passionate speech about the theatre industry and the challenges facing the future generations, it was perhaps wise not to have a former Conservative Chancellor on the stage with him.
Stephen Mangan, currently in The Man in the White Suit, playing just around the corner at the Wyndham Theatre, led a tribute to the Stage Door Keepers as the Behind the Scene Heroes of theatre. As 60 of the Keepers made their way through the auditorium to the stage, they were given a standing ovation by the entire theatre which was a lovely moment.
The tight 2 hour running time, meant little space for musical performances but Sam Tutty, a recent graduate of Italia Conti who has taken the lead role in Dear Evan Hanson, gave a beautiful rendition of Waving through a Window from the show. Miriam-Teak Lee and some of the cast of & Juliet performed a pulsating rendition of Roar from the show.
The awards were a really enjoyable evening, celebrating some powerhouses of British Theatre in Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Maggie Smith and Peter Brook, while recognizing some of the artists at the very start of their career, including Laurie Kynaston for his performance in The Son and the glorious Jasmine Lee-Jones, who won most promising playwright for seven methods of killing kylie jenner at the Royal Court.
I hope the evening provided inspiration, excitement and possibilities for all the students in attendance.
Reviewed by Lara Southworth
The full winners list was:
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AMBASSADOR THEATRE GROUP
NATASHA RICHARDSON AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN
Dame Maggie Smith
A German Life
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CHANEL
by Lynn Nottage
Donmar Warehouse & Gielgud
MILTON SHULMAN AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR
The Doctor & The Wild Duck
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
BEST MUSICAL PERFORMANCE
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH MICHAEL KORS
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT
seven methods of killing kylie jenner
EMERGING TALENT AWARD
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ACCESS ENTERTAINMENT
Kiln & Duke of York’s
Sir Ian McKellen
for his “On Stage” tour
for his contribution to theatre
FOLLOW WEST END WILMA