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Alistair Smith: Have the Evening Standard awards lost their way?

Evgeny Lebedev with the award winners. Photo: Dave Benett The Evening Standard's Evgeny Lebedev with the award winners. Photo: Dave Benett
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When I first started writing for The Stage, a little over a decade ago, there was a definite perception that the Evening Standard Awards were Theatreland’s most prestigious gongs. They were the oldest, they had a sensible judging methodology and – unlike the Oliviers, which were a bit of a gloomy affair held in a subterranean dining room on Park Lane – they had just the right amount of sparkle.

Zip forward 10 years, and things have changed.

The Oliviers have massively upped their game and are now held at a splendidly glamorous, and really rather enjoyable, ceremony at the Royal Opera House, while the Evening Standards have, well, somewhat lost their way.

The awards have slipped into self-parody

It’s not that any of the winners are undeserving. Indeed, there was some great talent recognised on Sunday night. It’s more that they are entirely predictable. Rather than being the gold stamp of quality they once were, the awards now appear to be entirely in thrall to celebrity. A bit of glitz is great, but you can have too much of a good thing. This year, the awards slipped into self-parody.

After the event, the Evening Standard published a ghastly image of its owner Evgeny Lebedev sprawled on the floor in front of this year’s winners like an expensively groomed, stuffed tiger. The Evening Standard Awards has well and truly become the Evgeny Lebedev show.

Picking up a very well-deserved lifetime achievement award (modestly titled the Lebedev award) legendary musical theatre composer Stephen Sondheim’s face, tucked away in the back row of that photo, was a picture.

Our new design

The Stage newspaper, 135 years young, gets a fresh lick of paint this week.

This brings the paper in line with a design that we rolled out on our website earlier this year. As well as introducing a new teal-coloured masthead, we have reduced the number of fonts, font sizes and colours in a bid to make the paper more modern, fresher and easier to read.

We hope you like it, but as ever would love to hear your feedback – good or bad. Please write to me at the usual address – alistair@thestage.co.uk

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