Nicole Kidman, James McAvoy Among Winners at London Theater Awards

23 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2015: Nicole Kidman and James McAvoy scoop top honours as stars come out in force.

Nicole Kidman, who first wowed the West End critics in 1998, sealed a triumphant return to the theatre by scooping the Best Actress honour in the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards. She picked up the Natasha Richardson Award for best actress at a ceremony at the Old Vic theatre for her role as the pioneering genetic scientist Rosalind Franklin in Photograph 51.

Her performance in Anna Ziegler’s play at the Noel Coward theatre, which was described as “a triumph” by Telegraph critic Dominic Cavendish, represented her first stage appearance in London in 17 years. After nearly a decade of marriage, the duo were still inseparable as they gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes on the red carpet of the star-studded London event alongside Salma Hayek and Kate Beckinsale.

The play shows how the female researcher faced institutional sexism and was written out of history despite her pivotal role in unlocking the code of DNA. In 1998 she briefly appeared naked in David Hare’s The Blue Room, in a performance that was memorably described by Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph as “pure theatrical Viagra”. Kidman, 48, who has picked up dozens of awards over a career spanning nearly three decades, topped a shortlist of actresses less familiar with the silver screen, including Denise Gough, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Lia Williams. McAvoy earned his honor in Peter Barnes’ satire “The Ruling Class” as an aristocrat who believes he is the Messiah, a role Peter O’Toole took in the 1972 film.

The Observer’s Susannah Clapp called it “dramatic amphetamine”, while Michael Billington, in the Guardian, praised her “commanding, intelligent performance”. The Hours actress exchanged vows with country singer Urban in their native Australia in 2006, 12-months after crossing paths at a G’Day USA showcase event in Los Angeles. Ben Brantley, in the New York Times, wrote that Kidman had seldom been better cast. “Among movie stars of her generation, she stands out for the relentless determination she projects; she seduces audiences not by charm but by concentration,” he said. David Moorst’s victory in the emerging talent category (for Violence and Son) rounded out the acting honours – and completed a hat trick of awards for the Royal Court.

Speaking candidly about their romance in the fashion bible, Nicole said: ‘But we really commit to each other and give to the relationship; our priority is to be together. The National Theatre was left with only one prize from seven nominations: winning best play for The Motherf—-r with the Hat (read our four-star review), written by American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, and performed on the stage of the Lyttelton.

I don’t ever take it for granted.’ She added: ‘What I have now – the life I have with Keith and with my whole family – it doesn’t just tumble into your lap; it’s from setting my sights on it and saying: “I so don’t want to be alone, I don’t want to walk this alone,” and I found that.’ It was a good night for movie stars, with McAvoy winning best actor for his portrayal of an English earl with a messiah complex in a revival of Peter Barnes’ 1968 satire The Ruling Class.

At the Harper’s Bazaar Women Of The Year Awards earlier this month she won the Theatre Icon award for the performance, her first turn on a West End stage for more than 17 years. McAvoy, who is perhaps also better known for his film roles, including The Last King of Scotland, saw off an all-star shortlist, beating Ralph Fiennes and Simon Russell Beale. The 61st occasion of the annual awards was hosted by the owner of the Evening Standard and The Independent Evgeny Lebedev, alongside two British icons of the stage and screen, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen. There was little surprise when Staunton was named winner in the best musical performance category for her unforgettable portrayal of Momma Rose in Gypsy. The production began in Chichester before transferring to the Savoy Theatre and was universally praised, with Billington calling it “one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen in musical theatre”.

The newcomer in a musical award went to Gemma Arterton for Made in Dagenham – a poignant prize perhaps, given the show closed after six months, having failed to attract big enough audiences. Pixie Lott also performed “Moon River” from a forthcoming production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which opens at the Haymarket Theatre Royal next year. Anna Fleischle took the honor for design for Martin McDonagh’s 60s-set “Hangmen,” which moves from the starkness of a condemned cell to a cluttered pub, where a former state executioner retreats to following the abolition of the death penalty in the U.K.

Molly Davies was named most promising playwright for her satire “God Bless the Child” about a group of eight-year-old school kids rebelling against a new educational regime. The one award decided by the public was for best musical, the prize going to Kinky Boots from a list that also had Gyspy, Bend it Like Beckham, Assassinsand Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Guests included Gillian Anderson, Arterton, Shirley Bassey, Kate Beckinsale, Anne-Marie Duff, Ralph Fiennes, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Irons, Kidman, Lindsay Lohan, McAvoy, Joely Richardson and Anna Wintour. Presented annually since 1955, the role call of previous winners includes Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren and Benedict Cumberbatch.

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