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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 15:00 GMT
Springer opera wins theatre prize
Jerry Springer - The Opera
Jerry Springer - The Opera has been critically acclaimed
A musical based on Jerry Springer's US chat show has won a top prize at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

Jerry Springer - The Opera, which stars Michael Brandon as Springer, was named best musical at the ceremony in London.

Casualty star Kwame Kwei-Armah - known to millions of viewers from Celebrity Fame Academy - was named most promising playwright for Elmina's Kitchen.

Michael Sheen was awarded best actor for his role in Caligula, and Sandy McDade was named best actress for Iron.

Kwame Kwei-Armah
Kwei-Armah featured in Celebrity Fame Academy and has just released an album
Best play was won by Michael Frayn's cold war drama Democracy at the National Theatre, while best director went to Polly Teale for After Mrs Rochester at the Duke of York.

Tom Hardy was named outstanding newcomer for Blood and In Arabia We'd All Be Kings. Best stage designer was Christopher Oram for Caligula.

A special award presented during a ceremony at the Savoy Hotel went to Max Stafford-Clarke for a lifetime contribution to theatre and his dedication to new writing.

His most recent production is The Permanent Way, a railway privatisation drama, at the National.

The Patricia Rothermere Award went to Lord Attenborough, chairman of Rada for 32 years, for supporting and encouraging young actors. A scholarship was given to drama student Elif Yesil.

Jerry Springer - The Opera
Michael Brandon (r) stars as Jerry Springer (l) in the musical
Nicholas Hytner marked a successful first year as artistic director of the National Theatre with links to three of the awards.

Jerry Springer - The Opera, which has just transferred from the National Theatre to the larger Cambridge Theatre, had launched Hytner's artistic directorship.

Kwei-Armah's well-received murder mile drama marked his own debut at the National. He picked up a 30,000 cheque along with his prize.

The Donmar theatre, under artistic director Michael Grandage, was involved in two awards - Sheen's best actor for Caligula and the stage design prize.

McDade's best actress award acknowledged her performance as a manipulative murderer in Iron.

Awards were presented by Helen Baxendale, Vanessa Redgrave and Peter Mandelson, while guests included Brenda Blethyn, Jeremy Irons, Jerry Hall, Nigel Havers, John Hurt, Jonathan Pryce and Maureen Lipman.

The awards will be televised by Carlton TV on 26 November at 2330 GMT.

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