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Evening Standard Awards
Awarded for Outstanding achievements in London theatre
Presented by Evening Standard
Country  United Kingdom
First awarded 1955

The Evening Standard Theatre Awards, established in 1955, are presented annually for outstanding achievements in London Theatre. Sponsored by the Evening Standard newspaper, they are announced in late November or early December.



The trophies take the form of a strongly modelled statuette, a somewhat Grecian figure representing Drama, designed by Frank Dobson RA, a former Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art.


Three of the awards are given in the names of former Evening Standard notables:

  • Arts editor Sydney Edwards (who conceived the awards, and died suddenly in July 1979) for the Best Director category.
  • Editor Charles Wintour (who as deputy-editor in 1955, launched the awards after a 'nod from the then proprietor, Lord Beaverbrook') for Most Promising Playwright.
  • Long-serving theatre critic Milton Shulman (for several years a key member of the judging panel) for the Outstanding Newcomer award.

In 2009 The Special Award was given in the name of Evgeny Lebedev, executive director of the Evening Standard.

In 1980, noting the first use of the Special Award category, Shulman observed that: "In 1968 the judges felt that Alan Bennett's work Forty Years On did not fit either the category of a Play or a Musical. But since they liked it so much they gave him the coveted Dobson statuette as a Special Award. In a quarter of a century, only in 1968 had no-one been designated as 'Promising' although it could conceivably be argued that Alan Bennett's Special Award was a reasonable substitute for this category."[1]

The Special Awards process came to a climax in 2004 when, in the 50th anniversary year, the category was used to signal peaks of accomplishment by the National Theatre (an institution), Harold Pinter (a playwright) and Dame Judi Dench (a performer).

The Patricia Rothermere Award, presented biennially from 1999 to 2005 recognised those who had given outstanding support to young actors. There was also a three-year scholarship award for a drama student. Lady Rothermere is the wife of Lord Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust, former owners of the Evening Standard.

Commencing in 2007, the award for Best Musical was renamed The Ned Sherrin Award, in memory of the entertainer and raconteur, for many years the witty compere of the Evening Standard Awards ceremony.

The Best Actress award is now named in tribute to Natasha Richardson who died after a skiing accident in Quebec in March 2009.

Awards ceremonies

The 2007 Awards lunchtime ceremony took place at the Savoy Hotel in London on 27th November, 2007. [2]. For the judges' assessments of the winners, see [4][3]

The 2008 winners were announced in a ceremony at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 24th November 2008 [4]. For the judges' assessments see [5].[5]

The 2009 winners were announced in a ceremony, again at the Royal Opera House, on Monday, 23rd November, 2009[6]. For the judges' assessments see [6].

Winners 2009

  • Best Play: Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth (Royal Court)
  • Best Actor: Mark Rylance for Jerusalem (Royal Court)
  • The Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress: Rachel Weisz for A Streetcar Named Desire (Donmar Warehouse)
  • The Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical: Hello, Dolly! (Open Air, Regent's Park)
  • Best Director: Rupert Goold for Enron (Royal Court)
  • Best Design: Mamoru Iriguchi for Mincemeat (Cardboard Citizens/Cordy House, Shoreditch)
  • The Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright: Alia Bano for Shades (Royal Court)
  • The Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer: Lenny Henry for the title role of Othello (Northern Broadsides at Trafalgar Studios)
  • The Lebedev Special Award: Sir Ian McKellen

Winners 1955-2009


Best Play

Best Actor

Best Actress — renamed (2009) The Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress

Best Musical

Best Designer

Best Comedy

Most Controversial Play

Editor's Award

Best Director

Most Promising Playwright

Outstanding Newcomer

Theatrical Achievement

Patricia Rothermere Award

  • 2005 – Penelope Keith. And Hannah Croft scholarship award
  • 2003 – Lord Attenborough for exceptional support for young actors. And Elif Yesil scholarship award
  • 2001 – Prunella Scales. And Cassandre Joseph scholarship award
  • 1999 – Simon Callow for Outstanding services to the theatre. And Martin Rea scholarship award

The Special Award (The Lebedev Special Award from 2009)


  1. ^ Celebration: 25 Years of British Theatre
  2. ^ [1] a full Evening Standard report 2007
  3. ^ Nathan, John."Stewart's Macbeth and Hairspray Triumph at London Evening Standard Awards",, November 27, 2007
  4. ^ [2] a full Evening Standard report 2008
  5. ^ Shenton, Mark."Ejiofor, Tyzack, Wilton, Grandage and More Win Evening Standard Theatre Awards",, November 24, 2008
  6. ^ [3] a full Evening Standard report 2009


  • Celebration: 25 Years of British Theatre. W. H. Allen Ltd, 1980. ISBN 0491027702, for Awards 1955-1978
  • Theatre Record and its annual Indexes, for Awards 1981 to date

Other London Theatre awards

External links


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