Spacey praised for turning around West End Theatre

Kevin Spacey has been hailed for his work in London's West End at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

Kevin Spacey has been hailed for his work in London's West End at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

The 'American Beauty' star, who has served as artistic director at the capital's Old Vic Theatre for the last five years, was praised for his part in reviving Alan Ayckbourn's 'The Norman Conquests'.

Speaking of his pride at being involved with the theatre, he said: "I can't quite believe what has happened to the Old Vic."

He recalled how, at the beginning of his tenure, some critics were "asking me to pack my bags and get the hell out of town" - but he refused and told his staff that "if we kept our heads down, kept focused on the vision, we would eventually emerge and establish ourselves".

And English theatre director Peter Hall was also full of compliments for Spacey: "(He's a) great actor, great director, and I think, now, great theatre runner."

Spacey was also applauded for his performance alongside Jeff Goldbum in David Mamet's 'Speed-the-Plow' - but he lost out on the Best Actor prize to Chiwetel Ejiofor, for his role in 'Othello' at the Donmar Warehouse.

The Best Actress category was also a hard-fought affair - in the end, Margaret Tyzack shared the accolade with Penelope Wilton for their roles in 'The Chalk Garden'.

The Donmar's Michael Grandage was named Best Director for overseeing both 'Othello' and 'The Chalk Garden', in addition to 'Ivanov'.

The ceremony took place at London's Royal Opera House yesterday.

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