At a starry ceremony last night at the Savoy Hotel in London, the Evening Standard presented the winners of its annual theatre awards, hosted by James Corden.

Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall in Constellations - winner of Best New Play at this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards

Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall in Constellations – winner of Best New Play at this year’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards

The Royal Court enjoyed a timely success as its West End transfer of Constellations starring Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall scooped a Best New Play award for Nick Payne. Currently playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre, Payne, at 29, is the youngest playwright to win the award.

Royal Court associate director Simon Godwin also won a new award, the Burberry award for emerging director, after being nominated last year for best newcomer for Nick Payne’s Wanderlust at the Royal Court. His recent Royal Court productions include The Acid Test, Goodbye To All That and The Witness.

This year’s ceremony felt dominated by the world of fashion, including a star-turn by American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who is daughter of the late Standard editor Charles Wintour, and sponsorship by Burberry, with their chief creative officer Christopher Bailey co-hosting the awards.

Charles Wintour’s name is associated with the most promising playwright award, which this year went to Lolita Chakrabarti for her sell-out play Red Velvet starring Adrian Lester at the Tricycle.

The creativity of the London Olympics opening ceremony was honoured as Danny Boyle and his team took home the Beyond Theatre award, with Boyle using his acceptance speech to argue for the inclusion of arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate. Creative director of the Olympic ceremonies Stephen Daldry was also presented with a special award at the end of the evening by Stephen Fry.

Dame Judi Dench received an award for her contribution to world theatre, saying that she loved making movies such as recent James Bond film Skyfall but that her “absolute passion is the theatre”. She will star alongside Skyfall’s Ben Wishaw this March in Peter and Alice, part of Michael Grandage’s new season of plays at the Noel Coward Theatre.

First up in the Grandage season is Privates on Parade starring Simon Russell Beale, who took home the best actor award last night for his performance as Stalin in Collaborators at the National Theatre.

It was a good night for the National with the National Theatre’s artistic director Nicholas Hytner winning the best director gong for his production of Timon of Athens – which also starred Simon Russell Beale – and the Lebedev special award for Hytner’s dynamic directorship of the National Theatre. David Hare, who has had a long and successful association with the National Theatre, was awarded the Editor’s award for his contribution to theatre.

Nicholas Hytner joined the protests about Arts cuts saying that they made no economic sense and calling for Culture Secretary Maria Miller to fund theatres to stimulate philanthropic giving.

The Donmar Warehouse’s first season under the stewardship of Josie Rourke saw the best design award go to Soutra Gilmour for Inadmissible Evidence plus design of Antigone at the National, and much talked-about young British actor Matthew Tennyson won a Milton Shulman award for outstanding newcomer for the Donmar’s Making Noise Quietly.

In other categories, Hattie Morahan won the best actress prize for her performance as Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House at the Young Vic and best musical went to Jonathan Kent’s production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, which transferred from Chichester to the Adelphi Theatre.

Hosts of the awards included Homeland’s Damian Lewis and Tinie Tempah, with guests including Colin Firth, Sir Ian McKellen, Ruth Wilson, Bill Nighy and Ralph Fiennes.

LINKS

See a full list of winners of the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2012

Book tickets to Constellations at the Duke of York’s Theatre

PHOTOS

See more photos here

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