Henry (age 51) wins award for best newcomer

'Streetcar' star Rachel Weisz wins first Natasha Richardson memorial award

It is a success story rich with showbusiness ironies: a 51-year-old entertainer with a keen aversion to Shakespeare wins a "newcomer" award after 32 years in the business, for his first serious acting role in a Shakespearean tragedy.

But that was the happy predicament the comedian Lenny Henry found himself in yesterday after winning an Evening Standard theatre award for his lead role in Othello, which transferred from the West Yorkshire Playhouse to the West End after an acclaimed sell-out tour. The play's run at the Trafalgar Studios in London comes to an end on 12 December. Henry, who was inspired to audition for the part after completing an Open University degree in English literature, said his only previous experience of acting on stage was as "the black kid" in a nativity play as a child. He added: "I must be the oldest newcomer there has ever been – which means there is hope for Bruce Forsyth's King Lear."

Other winners of the awards, which celebrate the best of London theatre, included Rachel Weisz, below, who was named best actress. The award was renamed this year to honour Natasha Richardson, who died in March.

Weisz, a British actress who has conquered Hollywood, won the accolade for her role as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire. The award was introduced by Richardson's mother, Vanessa Redgrave, who said she was proud the award carried her daughter's name, adding: "It is a wonderful thing to do." Speaking on location in Romania, Weisz said: "It is even more of an honour because this is the first year that the award has been named after the great and much, much-loved Natasha Richardson."

There were no prizes handed out to the West End's commercial theatres. The Royal Court dominated the ceremony, taking four awards in total. Its production of Jerusalem, a comic take on modern life in rural England, was named best play, and Mark Rylance received the best actor award for his lead performance as Johnny "Rooster" Byron in the same play.

Enron, another Royal Court production, was also recognised, with Rupert Goold named best director for his handling of the "innovative" comic production based on the financial scandal. The award for most promising playwright was given to Alia Bano for Shades, also staged at the Royal Court, which was described by awards organisers as "an engagingly irreverent depiction of life in Britain for a young, secular Muslim woman".

Sir Ian McKellen, whose career has spanned almost 50 years, received an award for his outstanding contribution to British theatre, which includes leading roles in Macbeth and Hamlet, as well as in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.

The winners

*Best play

Jerusalem, by Jez Butterworth

*Best actor

Mark Rylance, Jerusalem

*Best actress

Rachel Weisz, A Streetcar Named Desire

*Best director

Rupert Goold, Enron

*Best musical

Hello Dolly

*Best design

Mamoru Iriguchi, Mincemeat

*Most promising playwright

Alia Bano, Shades

*Outstanding newcomer

Lenny Henry, Othello

*Special award Sir Ian McKellen, for his contribution to theatre

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Arts and Entertainment
Bono throws water at the crowd while the Edge watches as they perform in the band's first concert of their new world tour in Vancouver

MusicThey're running their own restaurants

Voices
The main entrance to the BBC headquarters in London
TV & Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food