Cabaret Takes Top Honors At Critics Circle Theatre Awards: Jessie Buckley, Ben Daniels, Cash Jumbo Win Acting Prizes

Cabaret’s London stage revival has triumphed at the 31st Annual Critics Circle Theatre Awards, taking home three of this year’s top honors.

Rebecca Frecknall’s acclaimed new production of the 1966 musical won the award for Best Director, with Oscar-nominated Jessie Buckley earning Best Actress for her performance as Sally Bowles. Tom Scutt was also recognized for his striking stage design.

Complete list of winners below. 

The biggest upset of the event came with Cabaret losing out on the biggest award of the night, that of Best Musical, which went instead to Rupert Goold’s Spring Awakening. The latter also brought Start Thompson a joint win for the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer, along with Samuel Creasy, recognized for The Book of Dust – La Bell Sauvage.

Cush Jumbo won the Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance for her eponymous role in Hamlet, while Ben Daniels was named Best Actor for his role of Ned Weeks in Dominic Cooke’s revival of The Normal Heart. James Graham’s drama Best of Enemies, documenting the television war of words conducted between political commentators William F Buckley Jr and Gore Vidal, won the Michael Billington award for Best New Play.

The in-person ceremony marked the return of the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards after the pandemic forced the organisation to skip a year’s ceremony for the first time in its history. To mark this hiatus, the Critics’ Circle created a one-off category of commendations for those “who went above and beyond to keep theatre alive” during this period.

The Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, founded in 1989, are run by Drama Section of The Critics’ Circle, which has existed since 1913 to protect and promote cultural criticism in the UK.

Complete list of winners:

Best New Play (The Michael Billington Award)

Best of Enemies

Best Musical (The Peter Hepple Award)

Spring Awakening

Best Actor

Ben Daniels (The Normal Heart)

Best Actress

Jessie Buckley (Cabaret)

Best Shakespearean Performance (The Trewin Award)

Cush Jumbo (Hamlet)

Best Director

Rebecca Frecknall (Cabaret)

Best Designer

Tom Scutt (Cabaret)

Most Promising Playwright

Zadie Smith (The Wife of Willesden)

Igor Memic (Old Bridge)

Most Promising Newcomer (The Jack Tinker Award)

Stuart Thompson (Spring Awakening)

Samuel Creasy (The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage)

Commendations for Exceptional Theatre-Making During Lockdown

National Theatre

Jermyn Street Theatre

Original Theatre Company

Old Vic

Nica Burns




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