Andrew Scott, Sharon D. Clarke, Juliet Stevenson, Sam Tutty and Hammed Animashaun have won the top acting honours at the 2019 Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, held today (11 February 2020) at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End, hosted by Critics’ Circle Drama Section Chairman Henry Hitchings.
A Very Expensive Poison at the Old Vic was named Best New Play and Come From Away Best Musical. Jamie Lloyd was Best Director for three productions in the past year – Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Evita at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Cyrano de Bergerac at the Playhouse Theatre.
Andrew Scott was named Best Actor for Present Laughter at the Old Vic. It was his second win at the Critics’ Circle Awards; he previously won Best Shakespearean Performance for Hamlet, which ran at the Almeida and in the West End in 2017.
There was a tie for Best Actress with the award going to both Sharon D. Clarke in Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic and Piccadilly Theatre and Juliet Stevenson for The Doctor at the Almeida.
It was Stevenson’s second win at the Critics’ Circle Awards – she was Best Actress in 1983 for her Isabella in the RSC’s Measure for Measure.
Most Promising Newcomer was Sam Tutty for his West End debut in the title role in Dear Evan Hansen at Noel Coward Theatre.
Best Shakespearean Performance of the Year was Hammed Animashaun for his portrayal of Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre.
The ceremony is one of the best loved in the theatre awards calendar with its informal gathering of award recipients, drama critics, theatre practitioners and the media, convivially coming together to celebrate the critics’ personal choice of the best theatre, from throughout the UK, during the last calendar year.
Since the Awards’ inception in 1989, the critics who make up the Circle’s Drama section, a group 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.
Honouring his record-breaking almost 50-year career as the Guardian’s chief theatre critic, The Critics’ Circle Best Play Award now bears Michael Billington’s name for the first time.
The awards were once again presented in association with long-time headline sponsor Nyman Libson Paul Chartered Accountants, leading entertainment industry specialists. They are also generously supported by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres (now involved for a 16th year).
The event is produced by leading industry figure Terri Paddock. She co-founded and ran WhatsOnStage.com from 1997 to 2013, including founding the WhatsOnStage Awards. More recently, Paddock has founded groundbreaking musical theatre social media directory www.stagefaves.com and independent theatre bloggers portal www.mytheatremates.com with Mark Shenton.
Full list of winners
The Michael Billington Award for Best New Play
A Very Expensive Poison, Old Vic
The Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical
Come From Away, Phoenix
Andrew Scott, Present Laughter, Old Vic
Best Actress (two winners)
Sharon D Clarke, Death of a Salesman, Young Vic and Piccadilly
Juliet Stevenson, The Doctor, Almeida
The Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance
Hammed Animashaun, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bridge Theatre
Jamie Lloyd for Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Evita at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Cyrano de Bergerac at the Playhouse Theatre
Tom Scutt, A Very Expensive Poison, Old Vic
Most Promising Playwright
Jasmine Lee-Jones, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner, Royal Court
The Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Sam Tutty, Dear Evan Hansen, Noel Coward Theatre
The Special Award for Services to Theatre
Paule Constable, theatre’s leading lighting designer