Nicole Kidman and James McAvoy have won the best acting honours at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
Kidman was named best actress for her role as pioneering British scientist Rosalind Franklin in the play Photograph 51.
The award for best actor went to McAvoy for his performance in The Ruling Class.
The awards, hosted by Rob Brydon, took place at London’s Old Vic theatre on Sunday night.
Picking up her award, Kidman paid a moving tribute to her scientist father who died in 2014.
“Every night before I would go on stage I would kneel in front of his photograph and look into his eyes and he would give me the strength to go and do it every night,” she said.
The Oscar-winning star had returned to the London stage for the first time in 17 years to play Franklin, the only woman involved in the discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953.
Among the stars attending the event and handing out awards were Gillian Anderson, Shirley Bassey, Salma Hayek, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Dominic West and Ruth Wilson.
Imelda Staunton received a standing ovation as she picked up the best musical performance prize for Gypsy. She scooped the same category at last month’s UK Theatre Awards.
Written in the 1950s with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Gypsy opened in Chichester in 2014 before it transferred to London’s West End.
Staunton described Sondheim as the Shakespeare of musical theatre. “Every night when I sing his speeches – as I think of them – I revel in the richness, depth, pain and wit of his words,” she said.
Sondheim, who turned 85 this year, was honoured on stage with a special award presented by co-hosts Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen at the end of the ceremony.
The prize for best play went to The Mother with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis – the only award won by the National Theatre from its seven nominations.
Directed by Indhu Rubasingham, the cast included Desperate Housewives star Ricardo Chavira as Jackie, a recovering addict just out of jail who returns to live with his girlfriend but notices another man’s hat in their apartment.
The public-voted Radio 2 audience award for best musical went to Kinky Boots, which features songs by Cyndi Lauper.
Robert Icke was named best director for Oresteia, part of the Almeida Greek season that recently completed its transfer at Trafalgar Studios.
Gemma Arterton was named best newcomer in a musical for her musical theatre debut in Made in Dagenham. Picking up her award, Arterton recalled how she’d taken special steps to protect her singing voice.
“I became such a bore. I didn’t eat any cheese, drink coffee or smoke. That’s what you have to do when you are in musical theatre.”
Stage veteran Vanessa Redgrave received the editor’s award from her daughter Joely Richardson and shortlisted actor Ralph Fiennes.
After receiving a standing ovation, Redgrave said the theatre profession carried a “special responsibility, adding that “we carry the lifeblood of our society with all of us”.
The ceremony included musical performances from Staunton, performing Everything’s Coming Up Roses from Gypsy, and Pixie Lott singing Moon River from the production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which goes on tour next year prior to a West End run.
LONDON EVENING STANDARD THEATRE AWARDS WINNERS
- Best actor: James McAvoy, The Ruling Class, Trafalgar Studios
- Natasha Richardson award for best actress: Nicole Kidman, Photograph 51, Noel Coward Theatre
- Best play: The Mother with the Hat (Stephen Adly Guirgis), National Theatre’s Lyttelton
- Milton Shulman Award for Best Director: Robert Icke, Oresteia, Almeida Theatre & Trafalgar Studios
- Best design: Anna Fleischle, Hangmen, Royal Court
- Charles Wintour award for most promising playwright: Molly Davies, God Bless the Child, Royal Court Upstairs
- Emerging talent award in partnership with Burberry: David Moorst, Violence and Son, Royal Court Upstairs
- Best musical performance: Imelda Staunton, Gypsy, Savoy Theatre
- Newcomer in a musical: Gemma Arterton, Made in Dagenham, Adelphi Theatre
- Evening Standard Radio 2 audience award for best musical (voted for by the public): Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre
- Beyond Theatre: Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty
- Editor’s award: Vanessa Redgrave
- Lebedev award: Stephen Sondheim