Entertainment & Arts

Bend It Like Beckham a hit at theatre critics' awards

Bend It Like Beckham
Image caption Bend It Like Beckham is set to go on a stadium tour of India

Bend It Like Beckham has been named best musical at the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards.

The win comes just days after it was announced the show would be closing in the West End.

"Making an original British musical is tough," said the show's creator Gurinder Chadha at Tuesday's awards.

"We set out to create something completely original and bring in people who don't normally go to the West End. We achieved that."

Other winners at the awards included Kenneth Cranham, named best actor for his role as a man with dementia in The Father, while the best actress prize went to Denise Gough, who played a recovering addict in the National Theatre's People, Places and Things.

Both actors will be soon be reprising their roles in London's West End.

Cranham said: "I've played it 171 times and I'm coming up for another 100."

Gough told the BBC: "This character is indicative of the kind of parts that we need on stage - and on film and TV. A woman that is not an appendage to a man. This part for me is a fantastic addition to the canon of parts that will now be available for young women to play."

Image copyright JOHAN PERSSON
Image caption Dame Judi Dench played Paulina opposite Sir Kenneth Branagh's tortured king Leontes in The Winter's Tale

Dame Judi Dench won the prize for best Shakespearean performance for her role in The Winter's Tale, part of a season at the Garrick Theatre by the Kenneth Branagh Company.

Martin McDonagh's Hangmen was named best new play. McDonagh's first play in the UK for more than 10 years, it is set in a pub on the day in 1965 when hanging was abolished.

'More English'

Bend It Like Beckham, which has songs by Howard Goodall with lyrics by Charles Hart, is due to close on 5 March, less than a year after it opened.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the awards ceremony at London's Prince of Wales Theatre, Chadha said she was now preparing the show for a stadium tour of India.

A team of producers are flying over from Mumbai for talks on the tour and Chadha is finding ways "to make it more English" for an Indian audience.

Goodall hoped that Bend It Like Beckham would have a similar journey to musical Blood Brothers which became a long-running West End hit after touring the UK.

"We feel very proud of it and hopefully it will have a longer life," he said. "These things do take a while to seep into the consciousness."

The full list of winners is:

Best New Play: Hangmen by Martin McDonagh (Royal Court, Wyndham's Theatre)

Best Musical (new or revival): Bend It Like Beckham (Phoenix Theatre)

Best Actor: Kenneth Cranham in The Father (Bath Theatre Royal Ustinov Studio, Tricycle Theatre, Wyndham's Theatre and Duke of York's Theatre and UK tour)

Best Actress: Denise Gough in People, Places and Things (National, London, Wyndham's Theatre)

Best Shakespearean Performance: Judi Dench in The Winter's Tale (Garrick Theatre)

Best Director: Robert Icke for Oresteia (Almeida Theatre, Trafalgar Studios)

Best Designer: Anna Fleischle for Hangmen (Royal Court, Wyndham's Theatre)

Most Promising Playwright: James Fritz for Four minutes twelve seconds (Hampstead Theatre, Trafalgar Studios)

Most Promising Newcomer (other than a playwright): David Moorst in Violence and Son (Royal Court)

All theatres in London unless stated otherwise

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