Acclaimed actress Imelda Staunton was honoured at today's Theatre Awards UK ceremony, taking home the Best Performance in a Musical Award for her role as Sweeney Todd's gruesome Mrs Lovett.
First seen in Chichester Festival Theatre, the production was one of a host of London shows to pick up prizes at the second annual Theatre Awards UK held at the historic Guildhall. Formerly named the Theatrical Management Association Awards, the awards are the only ceremony to recognise achievements in theatres across the UK, both on stage and behind the scenes.
Staunton fought off competition from both Daniel Evans for Company at Sheffield Theatres and her very own Sweeney Todd co-star Michael Ball to win the award. Ball graciously collected the accolade on Staunton's behalf in her absence as she was unable to be there in person at the glamorous lunchtime event. Reading a prepared speech by the actress, Staunton described herself as: "totally indebted to the wonderful Jonathan Kent for his superb direction".
Best Supporting Performance was awarded to Aidan McArdle for Democracy, Michael Frayn's political drama and a Sheffield Theatres production which transferred to London's Old Vic theatre following its success at the northern city's Crucible theatre. The actor was less prepared than Staunton, telling Official London Theatre: "I’m really surprised, it’s never me! It’s fantastic, I’m just a little shocked. I was almost more scared that I would win because I didn’t know what I was going to say, I’d half written a speech and then decided I wasn’t going to do that."
In another of the most hotly contended categories, the Best Director Award, Garry Haynes picked up the accolade for his critically acclaimed DruidMurphy cycle. Comprising three plays by Irish playwright Tom Murphy, the nine-hour production started life at Hampstead theatre in June before touring the US and UK.
Shakespeare's Globe also had reason for celebration with Anne Boleyn, English Touring Theatre's production that played at the alfresco venue this summer, winning the Best Touring Production. The award, which was voted for by the public for the first time ever this year and presented by MP Ed Vaizey, must have been particularly special for Rachel Tackley, Director of English Touring Theatre, as she is also president of the TMA, who run Theatre Awards UK.
In the dance category, Akram Khan followed his Olivier Award success earlier this year collecting the Achievement in Dance Award for his epic work DESH, a deeply personal piece that moves from Britain to Bangladesh, inspired by his own life. Farooq Chaundhry, who produced the piece, collected the award and told Official London Theatre: "There are so many people in the room today who contributed to the award. Desh was incredibly cutting edge and risky, it’s not easy stuff, but in the end we found a story that really resonates with a lot of people."
In other categories, Sarah Ruhl's In The Next Room won Best New Play, Henry Goodman was awarded Best Performance in a Play for Chichester Festival Theatre's The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui and the David Wood-penned musical The Go-Between fought off strong competition from Sweeney Todd and Sheffield Theatres' Company to take home Best New Musical.
In the all-important behind the scenes categories, highlights included Graeae Theatre Company winning the Promotion of Diversity Award, and soon to be RSC Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman collecting the Theatre Employee/Manager of the Year Award for her work at Northern Stage, sharing it with the Citizens Theatre's Graham Sutherland.
Concluding today's ceremony was a special presentation of this year's The Stage Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre. Awarded to married actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales, the prize was touchingly presented to the pair by their son and fellow actor Samuel West.
Full list of winners:
BEST NEW PLAY
IN THE NEXT ROOM by Sarah Ruhl, a Theatre Royal Bath production in the Ustinov Studio
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A PLAY
Henry Goodman for THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI, a Chichester Festival Theatre production
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
Aidan McArdle for DEMOCRACY, a Sheffield Theatres production at the Crucible, Sheffield
BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION
THE GO-BETWEEN directed by Roger Haines, a West Yorkshire Playhouse, Royal & Derngate Northampton and Derby LIVE production at West Yorkshire Playhouse
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL
Imelda Staunton for SWEENEY TODD, a Chichester Festival Theatre production
BEST SHOW FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
THE CURIOUS SCRAPBOOK OF JOSEPHINE BEAN by Shona Reppe on tour
BEST TOURING PRODUCTION
ANNE BOLEYN, English Touring Theatre's presentation of the Shakespeare's Globe production
Garry Hynes for DRUIDMURPHY - plays by Tom Murphy - produced by Druid Theatre Company at Hampstead Theatre and Oxford Playhouse
Amanda Stoodley for MANCHESTER LINES a Library Theatre Company production
ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA
Christopher Alden's production of NORMA for Opera North, a co-production with Theater Chemnitz, with Annemarie Kremer in the title role
ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE
Akram Khan for DESH - the epic scale of a very personal journey
THEATRE EMPLOYEE/MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Erica Whyman - Northern Stage
Graham Sutherland - Citizens Theatre
ACHIEVEMENT IN MARKETING
The Marlowe Theatre
MOST WELCOMING THEATRE
New Wolsey Theatre
PROMOTION OF DIVERSITY
Graeae Theatre Company
THE RENEE STEPHAM AWARD FOR BEST PRESENTATION OF TOURING THEATRE
Music & Lyrics Limited