Three of the biggest winners at this year’s UK Critics’ Circle theatre awards were supported by Bruno Wang Productions. The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez, the Stephen Sondheim musical Company and Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke all won prestigious awards.
The Inheritance stole the show, securing the highest number of awards: best new play for Lopez, best director for Stephen Daldry and best actor for Kyle Soller (Francis in BBC’s Poldark) at the awards ceremony held at London’s Prince of Wales theatre.
The second-biggest winner went to director Marianne Elliott’s (Jane Eyre, War Horse) revival of Company. Featuring music by Stephen Sondheim and lyrics by Sondheim and George Furth, it picked up best musical as well as best design for Bunny Christie.
Patsy Ferran was awarded best actress for her lead role in Summer and Smoke, Tennessee Williams’ hitherto disregarded play, produced by Rebecca Frecknall.
Bruno Wang, founder of Bruno Wang Productions, said: “We are proud to have supported all three of these important shows. Each has, in different ways, stimulated conversation about gender and LGBT issues.”
The Inheritance is an epic two-part, seven-hour drama about gay young New Yorkers and what they owe both to their cultural forebears and to victims of the AIDS epidemic. Inspired by E M Forster’s novel Howard’s End, the emotionally powerful play has just ended its run at the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre after transferring from the Young Vic.
It was hailed it as ‘the play of the year’ (Evening Standard), ‘perhaps the most important American play of the century’ (Daily Telegraph) and ‘spellbinding’ (The Sunday Times).
In another brave and timely production, Elliott’s musical comedy Company switched the gender of the lead role, a singleton wondering whether to marry or remain single, from a male to a female. The ‘game-changer’ (The i) and ‘sensational’ production (Daily Telegraph) is playing at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre until March.
Christie’s innovative set featured an Alice in Wonderland theme. A series of neon-framed New York apartments allow the audience to venture down the rabbit hole of the lives of married couples. Bobby herself is not sure whether to join them, or remain single.
Love was at the steaming heart of Summer and Smoke, which has just ended its West End run at The Almeida. Written in 1948, the exquisite play chronicles the relationship between Alma, a minister’s daughter, who falls in love with a worldly doctor’s son (Matthew Needham). Critics had hailed Patsy Ferran (Treasure Island), who played Alma, as ‘phenomenal’ (Variety) and “a genuine marvel’ (The Independent).