Actors known more for their Hollywood work than for the stage took best performance honors Sunday at London’s Evening Standard Theater Awards with Nicole Kidman and James McAvoy taking the top prizes. Kidman won best actress for her critically praised turn as under-appreciated DNA scientist Rosalind Franklin in Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51, and McAvoy was named best actor for his role as the delusional English earl in a revival of Peter Barnes’ 1968 satire The Ruling Class.
Kidman last performed on the West End 17 years ago in David Hare’s The Blue Room. McAvoy earlier this year was nominated for an Olivier Award but lost to Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge.
Imelda Staunton received the nod in best musical performance category for her portrayal of Momma Rose in Gypsy. Staunton reprised the role at the Old Vic ceremony, singing ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’. Gemma Arterton was chosen best newcomer in a musical for Made in Dagenham, a production shuttered after six months for underperforming commercially.
Robert Icke was named best director for his production of Oresteia at Trafalgar Studios.
The Royal Court theater was honored in three categories. Molly Davies took the Charles Wintour award for most promising playwright for God Bless the Child; David Moorst won the emerging talent award for his role in Violence and Son, and Anna Fleischle topped the list in the design category for Hangmen, the Martin McDonagh play that premiered at the Royal Court.
Hangmen missed out on best play, which went to The Mother****** with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis, which had its UK premiere at the National Theatre.
Other stars in attendance included Gillian Anderson, Jeremy Irons, Ralph Fiennes, Dame Shirley Bassey, Jessica Brown Findlay, Kate Beckinsale, Salma Hayek, Ruth Wilson, Lindsay Lohan, Dominic West, designer Christian Louboutin, and Alex Sharp.
The UK’s longest-running theater awards (since 1955) also handed out special honors to Vanessa Redgrave and Stephen Sondheim. The editor’s award was presented to Redgrave by Fiennes and her daughter Joely Richardson, while a special prize in the name of the Evening Standard’s owner, the Lebedev award, was given by Judi Dench and Ian McKellen to Sondheim, who this year celebrated his 85th birthday.
The Evening Standard awards are not London’s most prestigious – those would be the Oliviers – but they are highly prized. Previous winners include Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren and Benedict Cumberbatch.