Standard lauds Kevin Spacey for Old Vic revival

Paper gives actor special prize; Donmar takes four nods

LONDON -- Kevin Spacey received a drama award Monday for reviving London's historic Old Vic Theatre.

Spacey, an Oscar winner for 1999's "American Beauty" and 1995's "The Usual Suspects," received a special prize at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards "for bringing new life to the Old Vic."

Spacey took charge of the Old Vic in 2003, reviving the 190-year-old theater with a series of acclaimed and popular productions. The award judges cited a recent revival of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow," starring Spacey and Jeff Goldblum, and the theater's current production of Alan Ayckbourn's comic trilogy "The Norman Conquests."

London's tiny Donmar Warehouse was the big winner at the awards, taking four prizes. Chiwetel Ejiofor was named best actor for the Donmar's production of "Othello," and Penelope Wilton and Margaret Tyzack were jointly named best actress for "The Chalk Garden."

Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage won the best director prize for several productions at the theater.

The award for best new play went to "The Pitmen Painters," the story of a group of miners-turned-artists by "Billy Elliot" playwright Lee Hall.

Twenty-eight-year-old American writer Tarell Alvin McCraney was named most promising playwright for "In the Red and Brown Water" and "The Brothers Size" at the Young Vic. The Young Vic, a publicly subsidized theater aimed at new actors and directors, also won the best musical category for its production of Kurt Weill's "Street Scene."

In their 54th year, the Evening Standard awards are sponsored by London's afternoon newspaper.