LONDON Film director Danny Boyle won an Evening Standard Theatre Award late on Sunday for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, which was warmly praised in Britain but befuddled many overseas viewers.
The ceremony, a kaleidoscopic romp through Britain's recent history packed with references to literature and music, was honored with the Beyond Theatre award by the free London newspaper.
Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands, who was also a judge at the annual awards, said the ceremony became a "metaphor for national hope."
"If we could achieve this, we could achieve anything," she said. "Boyle managed to find a way of showing us who we are, as if he were poet laureate. He did all this on an austerity budget. He went beyond theatre but stayed within the limits of the Treasury."
Best play was "Constellations", which premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in January to rave reviews, while best director went to National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner's modern-day adaptation of the Shakespeare play "Timon of Athens".
Simon Russell Beale picked up the best actor award for his portrayal of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in "Collaborators", while the best actress prize was awarded to Hattie Morahan for her role in the Young Vic revival of Ibsen's "A Doll's House".
"Sweeney Todd" scooped the best musical category, Lolita Chakrabarti was named most promising playwright for "Red Velvet" and best design went to Soutra Gilmour for her work on John Osborne's "Inadmissible Evidence" and Greek tragedy "Antigone".
Playwright David Hare and actress Judi Dench both picked up lifetime achievement awards, actor Matthew Tennyson was named outstanding newcomer and Simon Godwin won the emerging director prize.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)