Cheap tickets and class acts bring glory to National

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The aura of success surrounding the National Theatre in London glowed a little brighter yesterday after it won plaudits from both the critics and the public.

About 10,000 people voted the National Theatre's Travelex season of £10 tickets the theatre event of 2003 in a poll by the website, whatsonstage.com.

The paying public also awarded the National a further 14 wins out of 23 categories, including best actor for Kenneth Branagh in Edmond and best supporting actor for Jim Broadbent in The Pillowman.

The Critics' Circle loved the National, too, but its members were most impressed by the Eugene O'Neill play, Mourning Becomes Electra. That won three top honours in a ceremony at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, yesterday, including best director for Howard Davies and best designer for Bob Crowley. Eve Best beat her fellow cast member Helen Mirren, to be named best actress. The public chose Kristin Scott Thomas as best actress for Chekhov's Three Sisters.

Democracy, Michael Frayn's examination of German politics, was named best new play by the critics while the public chose Terry Johnson's Hitchcock Blonde, at the Royal Court.

But Jerry Springer - The Opera, which began at the Battersea Arts Centre before being developed at the National, was named best musical by the critics and the public. It also got the public's vote for newcomer of the year for Benjamin Lake, who plays God and Dwight, a nappy-wearing talk show guest.

Anything Goes, the National's production of the Cole Porter classic which won the critics' vote last year before transferring to the West End, won five awards, including best director for Trevor Nunn, in the public vote.

The critics named Michael Sheen best actor for his thrilling performance of Caligula at the Donmar Warehouse and Greg Hicks won the best Shakespearean performance award for the Royal Shakespeare Company's Coriolanus.

The RSC's The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed won the best regional production vote by the public.

Lucy Prebble was named the critics' most promising playwright for The Sugar Syndrome at the Royal Court. Lisa Dillon won most promising newcomer for Iphigenia at Sheffield Theatres and The Master Builder in the West End.

Denise Van Outen was a surprise winner with the public's vote for best solo performance for Tell Me On A Sunday.

THE WINNERS

CRITICS' CIRCLE AWARDS

* Best actress: Eve Best, Mourning Becomes Electra (National, London)

* Best actor: Michael Sheen, Caligula (Donmar Warehouse, London)

* Best musical: Jerry Springer - The Opera , (BAC, London, National, London and Cambridge Theatre, London)

* Best new play: Democracy , by Michael Frayn (National, London, West End transfer April 2004)

* Best designer: Bob Crowley, Mourning Becomes Electra (National, London)

* Best director: Howard Davies, Mourning Becomes Electra (National, London)

* Best Shakespearean performance: Greg Hicks, Coriolanus (RSC)

* Most promising newcomer: Lisa Dillon for Iphigenia (Sheffield Theatres) and The Master Builder (Albery, London)

* Most promising playwright: Lucy Prebble, The Sugar Syndrome (Royal Court, London)

WHATSONSTAGE.COM AWARDS

* Best actress: Kristin Scott Thomas, Three Sisters (Playhouse)

* Best actor: Kenneth Branagh, Edmond

* Best supporting actress: Nicola Walker, Edmond

* Best supporting actor: Jim Broadbent, The Pillowman

* Best actress in a musical: Sally Ann Triplett, Anything Goes

* Best actor in a musical: John Barrowman, Anything Goes

* Best supporting performance in a musical: Trevor Jary, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

* Best solo performance: Denise Van Outen, Tell Me on a Sunday

* Best ensemble performance: Propeller's A Midsummer Night's Dream

* Best takeover in a role: Ruthie Henshall, Chicago

* Best new play: Terry Johnson's Hitchcock Blonde

* Best new comedy: His Girl Friday , adapted by John Guare

* Best new musical: Jerry Springer - The Opera

* Best play revival: Edmond

* Best musical revival: Anything Goes

* Best Shakespearean production: Henry V

* Best director: Trevor Nunn, Anything Goes , Love's Labours Lost and The Lady from the Sea

* Best set designer: John Gunter, Anything Goes, and Love's Labours Lost

* Best choreographer: Stephen Mear, Anything Goes

* Theatre event of the year: The Travelex £10 season at the National Olivier

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