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Sam Mendes, Andrew Scott and Nicole Scherzinger win big at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards

Nicole Scherzinger as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard
Nicole Scherzinger as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard Copyright Marc-Brenner
Copyright Marc-Brenner
By Jonny Walfisz
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The best performances in London's West End across 2023 have been celebrated at one of the nation's most prestigious theatre awards.

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The winners have been revealed for this year’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Organised by the London-based newspaper The Evening Standard, it is the country’s oldest theatre awards and celebrates the best of the capital’s theatrical offerings.

Best Play, the top award of the ceremony went to The Motive and the Cue, written by Jack Thorne. The play tells the story of the 1964 Broadway production of Hamlet when legendary actors Richard Burton and Sir John Gielgud clashed in rehearsals.

It’s the second time Thorne has won Best Play. He first won in 2016 for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the successful Harry Potter sequel stage play. Other plays nominated included Dear England, A Mirror and Retrograde.

Johnny Flynn (Richard Burton) and Mark Gatiss (Sir John Gielgud) in The Motive and the Cue
Johnny Flynn (Richard Burton) and Mark Gatiss (Sir John Gielgud) in The Motive and the CueMark Douet

Thorne joins a small group of eight playwrights who have won the award two times, alongside Jez Butterworth (The Ferryman, Jerusalem). Three playwrights have won it thrice, while the most awarded in the ceremony’s history is Tom Stoppard, who has won six times (Jumpers, Night and Day, The Real Thing, Arcadia, The Invention of Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll).

The Motive and the Cue director Sam Mendes was also awarded the Lebedev Award for his dedication to theatre. Mendes, best known internationally for his film work (American Beauty, Skyfall, 1917), has a long history of directing acclaimed theatre in the UK, most recently including 2017’s The Ferryman and 2019’s The Lehman Trilogy revival.

Winner of Best Musical was the Bridge Theatre’s revival of Guys and Dolls, the 1950 musical by Frank Loesser. Jamie Lloyd won Best Director for his acclaimed production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical adaptation of Sunset Boulevard.

American singer and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger won Best Musical Performance in the leading role of Sunset Boulevard. Scherzinger’s performance generated headlines when each song was given a standing ovation during the show’s opening night.

Irish actor Andrew Scott (Fleabag, Sherlock, All of Us Strangers) won the Best Actor award for Vanya, a one-man show where he plays all the characters of the classic Anton Checkhov play Uncle Vanya.

Andrew Scott in Vanya
Andrew Scott in VanyaMarc Brenner

Patsy Ferran and Anjana Vasan shared the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress in association with Mithridate for their co-starring performances in a revival of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.

Two special Editors Awards were presented. One to Ruth Wilson for her staggering 24-hour show The Second Woman, with the second going to Elton John for his long collaboration with musical theatre in the UK.

Most Promising Playwright went to Isley Lynn for her play The Swell. The Emerging Talent award was given to Tatenda Shamiso for his play NO I.D. on the experience of being a black transgender immigrant in the UK. Georgia Lowe also won Best Design for The Good Person of Szechwan.

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