Shows supported by Bruno Wang Productions have won four awards at the prestigious Evening Standard Theatre Awards (ESTA).
Best Play went to The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez. This stunning six-hour, two-part production has already been called “the play of this year and last year and quite possibly next year as well” by the Standard in its recent review.
Lopez was presented with the award for Best Play by Vanessa Redgrave, star of the original cast of The Inheritance at the Young Vic and also its West End transfer to the Noël Coward Theatre.
At the ceremony Lopez said: “No one goes into a career as a playwright because they are well adjusted,” continuing “being gay was the most joyful and the most traumatic truth of my life for so much of my life. I needed to look at the trauma and heal from it and live my life in joy – and that’s why I wrote this play.”
This latest honour adds to a slew of four-and five-star reviews, including one by the Daily Telegraph that called The Inheritance, “Perhaps the most important American play of the century so far.”
Stephen Sondheim’s classic Company also received major plaudits during the ceremony at the Theatre Royal, hosted by writer and producer Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
The Milton Shulman Award for Best Director went to Marianne Elliott (War Horse, Angels in America), who has been widely praised for her “intelligently reimagined” production.
In this revival, the gender of the lead character has been swapped from male to female. The show was rewarded with multiple five-star reviews, with critics calling it a “game-changer” and “surprisingly sexy and clever”.
And Rosalie Craig (The Ferryman, As You Like It), who plays the show’s central character Bobbie, was rewarded with Best Musical Performance, an award she last won in 2013 for The Light Princess.
The Jungle, a play that takes a fresh and compelling look at the migrant crisis, was chosen for Best Design. This was awarded by Stella McCartney to Miriam Buether for her work transforming the auditorium of first the Young Vic and then the Playhouse Theatre into a makeshift café in the Calais Jungle refugee camp.
Other ESTA awards included Best Actor, which went to Ralph Fiennes for Antony and Cleopatra, and the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress, handed to his co-star Sophie Okonedo for the same play. Best Musical was presented to Hamilton.
The Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright went to Natasha Gordon for Nine Night at the National Theatre, the Emerging Talent Award was given to Jamael Westman for Hamilton and the Lebedev Award was presented by Patti LuPone (presently starring in Company) to Sir Cameron Mackintosh for his contribution to musical theatre.
And marking a new appreciation of all the work carried out backstage, an annual tribute was launched this year for the “behind-the-scenes heroes” of theatre. Designer John Galliano praised the role of the dresser, a job he did at the National early on in his career, and invited 26 dressers seated in the auditorium to join him on stage and take a bow.