Entertainment & Arts

Frankenstein stars win Evening Standard Theatre Awards

Benedict Cumberbatch, Sheridan Smith and Jonny Lee Miller
Image caption Benedict Cumberbatch, Sheridan Smith and Jonny Lee Miller with their acting awards

Frankenstein stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller have been named joint winners of the best actor award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

Cumberbatch and Miller alternated in the roles of Frankenstein and the Creature in Danny Boyle's National Theatre production.

Richard Bean's The Heretic and One Man, Two Guvnors, starring James Corden, both took the prize for best play.

The awards were hosted by Dame Edna Everage at London's Savoy Hotel.

In deciding the best actor prize, the judges - made up of leading theatre critics - said it would have been "invidious" not to recognise both actors.

Sherlock star Cumberbatch said: "What a journey this was, I'm so happy we're sharing this, it would have made no sense otherwise."

Miller said: "It was literally a monster of a production."

He praised the "sheer bloody genius" of director Danny Boyle and thanked Cumberbatch for "having no ego" about sharing the roles.

Earlier Miller had told the BBC the play had been the most challenging of his career.

He said: "The roles were so different and it was wonderful to have the chance to explore two different sides to a play.

"For that reason you couldn't have a favourite role, but The Creature was more physical and more demanding and you sweated a ton."

Sheridan Smith beat off stiff competition to take the Natasha Richardson Award for best actress for her role as a former barmaid alongside Sienna Miller in Terence Rattigan's wartime drama, Flare Path.

"Are you sure?" asked Smith, who was overcome with emotion when her name was read out.

The actress had been a contender for the same prize last year for Legally Blonde.

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Media captionStars tell BBC News what their theatre highlight of 2011 has been

Richard Bean picked up the best play prize for both The Heretic and One Man, Two Governors - the latter being a slapstick adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's 18th century comedy The Servant of Two Masters.

Picking up his award, Bean quipped: "I feel a little bit guilty about winning the award for best new play with a 270-year-old comedy written by somebody else."

The former stand-up comedian added: "When Carlo Goldoni died he left his wife penniless. And she's not going to get anything out of me either."

One Man, Two Guvnors has just transferred to the West End and opens on Broadway next year, with Corden reprising his role as a failed skiffle musician working for two small-time crooks.

Nicholas Hytner's production opened to rave reviews at the National Theatre in May.

Bean's other winning play, The Heretic, was a black comedy about climate change at the Royal Court, starring Juliet Stevenson.

Kristin Scott Thomas, who was beaten in the best actress category, did not walk away empty-handed. She was honoured with the Lebedev Special Award, presented by Stephen Fry.

Michael Grandage, who is leaving the Donmar Warehouse after a decade as artistic director, was honoured with the Editor's Award, for turning the Covent Garden venue into a "hit factory".

Image caption Cumberbatch alternated roles with Lee Miller in Danny Boyle's production. Photos by Catherine Ashmore

Sir Tom Stoppard received recognition for his contribution to Russian theatre and the international stage with the Moscow Art Theatre's Golden Seagull.

Matilda the Musical won the Ned Sherrin Award for best musical, beating Betty Blue Eyes and London Road.

The RSC production, based on the Roald Dahl book, is about to open in the West End and features songs by comedian Tim Minchin.


Minchin said: "Coming from pro-am theatre in Western Australia, and singing foul songs, to working with people like the RSC is incredible and has been completely life-changing."

The best director award went to Mike Leigh for Grief, his 1950s-set play at the National Theatre about a war widow and her family.

Leigh admitted: "This is genuinely a surprise. I have to share with you this is the first time I've ever had an award for directing a play."

The outstanding newcomer award went to American Kyle Soller for a trio of performances in The Glass Menagerie, Government Inspector (both Young Vic) and The Faith Machine (Royal Court).

Having been pitted against his wife, the actress Phoebe Fox, in the same category, he said of his statuette: "I've got to split this in half when I go home."

Meanwhile, the most promising playwright award - with £3,000 prize money - went to Penelope Skinner for her play The Village Bike, which starred Romola Garai at the Royal Court.

The Pet Shop Boys' venture into ballet at Sadler's Wells - with choreographer Javier de Frutos - received a new prize, the Beyond Theatre Award.

The musical Wicked, at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, won "best night out" award, voted by theatre-going audiences.

Among those presenting the prizes were Miranda Hart, Doctor Who's Karen Gillan, Anna Chancellor, Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens, Gemma Arterton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Sam Taylor Wood.

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