Imelda Staunton wins theatre award for Sweeney Todd

Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett and Michael Ball as Sweeney Todd (Photo: Tristram Kenton) Sweeney Todd moved to the West End in March after proving a hit with critics

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Sweeney Todd star Imelda Staunton has beat co-star Michael Ball to win best performance in a musical at the Theatre Awards UK.

She played Mrs Lovett in the Chichester Festival Theatre's production, which later transferred to the West End.

Henry Goodman won best performance in a play for The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, also from the Chichester theatre.

Despite having the most nominations, Sweeney Todd was beaten to the prize of best musical by The Go-Between.

Written by Richard Taylor and David Wood and directed by Roger Haines, the show at the West Yorkshire Playhouse was a co production with Royal & Derngate and Northampton and Derby LIVE!.

Despite Staunton's triumph over her Sweeney Todd co-star, Ball picked up the prize on her behalf, revealing he "had the best time playing Ernie to her Eric".

He also read out a message from Staunton, in which the actress said she was "totally indebted to the wonderful Jonathan Kent for his superb direction".

In March, when the show opened, critics said she "deploys all her comic talent as Mrs Lovett to try to alleviate the tale's grisliness".

This year saw the Theatre Awards' first prize voted for by the public, for best touring production.

Theatre-goers named Anne Boleyn the winner, the English Touring Theatre's presentation of the Shakespeare's Globe production.

The awards, which honour creative excellence and outstanding achievement in regional theatre productions around the UK, were handed out by The Theatrical Management Association (TMA) in London on Sunday.

The Theatre Royal Bath's production In The Next Room, Sarah Ruhl's story about sex, intimacy and equality, was named best new play.

"Regional theatre is going from strength to strength, and we should recognise and celebrate that success," said the TMA's president, Rachel Tackley.

Best supporting performance was won by Aidan McArdle for Democracy, a Sheffield Theatres production at the Crucible.

Married couple Timothy West and Prunella Scales were honoured with The Stage award for outstanding contribution to British theatre, to recognise their longstanding commitment to theatre outside London.

The Marlowe Theatre, the New Wolsey Theatre and children's play The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean were also among the winners.

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