By Tom Teodorczuk, Evening Standard
Rock''n''Roll blasted its way to a double victory today at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
Sir Tom Stoppard''s politics and music saga, set in post-war Czechoslovakia, was named best play at London theatre''s most prestigious annual awards ceremony, held at The Savoy.
The play also picked up a best actor prize for Rufus Sewell, while the best actress award went to Kathleen Turner for Who''s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf ? as the finest plays, players and musicals of the past 12 months were honoured at the 52nd awards, compered by Ned Sherrin.
Rock ''n'' Roll, which moved from the Royal Court to the Duke Of York''s, beat Peter Morgan''s Frost/Nixon and Conor McPherson''s The Seafarer.
Sir Tom, in New York for tonight''s Broadway opening of his The Coast Of Utopia, accepted the prize on film. He said: "This is not a good time for me to be 3,000 miles away. I thank the Evening Standard and am honoured."
Presented with the best actor prize by Kristin Scott Thomas for his role as a Czech dissident, Sewell, 39, said: "This award is very special because it is quite easy to get recognised for being a newcomer, but to still be in the game all these years later is fantastic."
On beating Kevin Spacey (A Moon For The Misbegotten), Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) and Bill Irwin (Who''s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf ?), Sewell said: "It''s unbelievable. It doesn''t bear thinking about. " But Frost/Nixon, at the Gielgud Theatre - the story of David Frost''s landmark 1977 TV interviews with former US president Richard Nixon - won the editor''s award, an inaugural prize set up to honour an outstanding contribution to the West End. Culture Minister David Lammy handed the statuette to playwright Peter Morgan.
Kathleen Turner was named best actress for her electrifying performance as Martha in the Apollo Theatre''s revival of Edward Albee''s classic Who''s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? Turner, 52, said: "As an American actress I have had Tony nominations before, but I have such great admiration for the quality of British theatre, that I am truly thrilled." She beat Sinead Cusack (Rock ''n'' Roll) and Frances O''Connor (Tom And Viv).
When it came to best musical the National Theatre emerged triumphant thanks to Caroline, or Change. The civil rights musical defeated Spamalot, Evita and Sunday In The Park With George. Lyricist Tony Kushner and composer Jeanine Tesori received the award from Alan Cumming.
The National chalked up another victory as Marianne Elliott landed the Sydney Edwards Award for best director for Pillars Of The Community. Jeremy Irons handed the prize to Elliott, who beat Michael Grandage for The Wild Duck, Evita and Frost/Nixon as well as Anthony Page for Who''s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
Kilburn''s Tricycle Theatre won the special award for its pioneering work in political theatre. Tricycle director Nicholas Kent received the award from Richard Wilson for plays such as The Colour Of Justice, based on the Stephen Lawrence inquiry; Justifying War, about the Hutton Inquiry; and Guantanamo, which drew upon interviews with detainees at the US camp.
Helen McCrory presented the award for best design to Timothy Bird and David Farley for Sunday In The Park With George, which opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory before transferring to Wyndham''s Theatre.
Andrew Garfield, 22, won the Milton Shulman Award for outstanding newcomer for performances in Beautiful Thing, The Overwhelming and Burn/ Chatroom/Citizenship. LA-born Garfield was presented with the award by Eve Best. Previous winners include Rachel Weisz and Jake Gyllenhaal. The Charles Wintour Award for most promising playwright was won by Nina Raine, 31, for her drama Rabbit, which wowed West End audiences at the Trafalgar Studios after its transfer from the Old Red Lion. Kathy Burke presented the award to Raine.
The prize also comes with a cheque for £30,000, jointly donated by Lord Rothermere and former Evening Standard editor Charles Wintour''s daughter Anna Wintour.
Raine said: "Last year I earned £9,000. It was an excellent year. When I heard I had won this award I was living with my uncle and aunt in the attic. When I got the news I stood up in shock, luckily in the one place you can do that without bashing your head. This award will truly be life changing."
Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley flew the banner for West End plays, which have come under increasing threat from big-budget musicals. She said: "I am standing in the spotlight to lead the protest against the excess of musicals in the West End."
She added: "The great challenge to all of us is to encourage plays like Tom Stoppard''s Rock''n''Roll and Peter Morgan''s Frost/Nixon, one of the most thrilling pieces of theatre I have seen in years. Both of them attracted huge excitement, comments and audience."
The ceremony was hosted by Lady Rothermere, wife of Lord Rothermere, chairman of Daily Mail and General Trust, owner of the Evening Standard.
Guests included Kim Cattrall, Damian Lewis, Iain Glen, Jodhi May, Jane Asher, Brian Cox, Sir Peter Hall, Dominic West, Alice Eve, Sir John Mortimer, Sonia Friedman and Patrick Stewart.
The 2006 winners
BEST PLAY: Rock ''n'' Roll by Tom Stoppard
BEST ACTOR: Rufus Sewell for his performance in Rock ''n'' Roll
BEST ACTRESS: Kathleen Turner for her performance in Who''s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
THE SYDNEY EDWARDS AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR: Marianne Elliott for Pillars Of The Community
THE CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT: Nina Raine for Rabbit
BEST MUSICAL: Caroline, Or Change
BEST DESIGN: Timothy Bird & David Farley for Sunday In The Park With George
THE MILTON SHULMAN AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING NEWCOMER: Andrew Garfield for Beautiful Thing; Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship; The Overwhelming
EDITOR''S AWARD: Frost/Nixon
SPECIAL AWARD: The Tricycle Theatre for its pioneering work in political theatre
[source: Evening Standard]