COMPANY, THE INHERITANCE And More Take Home Honors At The Critics' Circle Theatre Awards
Matthew Lopez's epic two-part drama The Inheritance was the big winner at the 2018 Critics' Circle Theatre Awards held today (29 January 2019) at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London's West End, hosted by Critics' Circle Drama Section Chairman Mark Shenton.
The Inheritance scooped three awards - Best New Play, Best Director (Stephen Daldry) and Best Actor (Kyle Soller). Spanning generations and interlinking lives, The Inheritance brilliantly transposed EM Forster's novel Howards End to 21st-century New York. It received its world premiere in a critically acclaimed sold-out season at the Young Vic then transferred to the West End's Noël Coward Theatre.
Marianne Elliott's ground-breaking production of Company, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's legendary 1970 musical comedy about life, love and marriage, with a hotly anticipated gender-swapped story line, took home two awards - Best Musical and Best Designer (Bunny Christie).
Best Actress was Patsy Ferran as Alma in Tennessee Williams' Summer & Smoke at the Almeida Theatre and Duke of York's Theatre. Ferran was previously Critics' Circle Best Newcommer for Blithe Spirit and Treasure Island in 2015.
The Special Award for Services to Theatre was awarded to Neil McPherson, Artistic Director of the pioneering Finborough Theatre in Earl's Court since January 1999.
Drama Section Chair Mark Shenton said:
"Where other award ceremonies prioritise celebrity winners, see the industry rewarding itself or act as a public popularity contest, the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards alone are above the fray with their independence, judged by respected critics whose job it is to see theatre week in, week out, without fear or favour, and who have no other agenda than to celebrate excellence. Critics are invited to reward their favourite contributions to creative excellence equally across plays and musicals."
The Critics' Circle Theatre Awards is one of the best loved ceremonies in the theatre awards calendar. It's an informal gathering of award recipients, drama critics, theatre practitioners and the media, convivially coming together to celebrate the critics' selection of the best theatre, from throughout the UK, during the last calendar year. Since the Awards' inception in 1989, the theatre critics, consisting entirely of respected and influential working journalists, have prided themselves on offering something unique on the packed theatre awards circuit: each member of the Drama Section independently casts their vote based on personal choice, free of any discussion or industry influence, ensuring a highly democratic voting process.
Comedian Arthur Smith opened proceedings in time-honoured fashion, and during the ceremony, Mark Shenton handed over the reins, after nine years at the helm of the theatre section, to
incoming chairman Henry Hitchings, Chief Theatre Critic of the London Evening Standard, as Mark becomes President of the Critics'Circle for a two-year term.
The exclusive invited audience also enjoyed a special musical performance from Once on this Island by the British Theatre Academy.
For a third year, the Awards were produced by Terri Paddock.