Turner's prize proves Hollywood stars can still wow the West End

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The Independent Culture

Many Hollywood stars now tread the boards of the West End stage. Not all have done so with the aplomb of Britain's home grown thespians.

But Kathleen Turner, 52, turned in such a barnstorming performance as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? that she was honoured yesterday at the London Evening Standard awards.

The star of films such as The War of the Roses beat Sinead Cusack, nominated for Rock 'n' Roll, and Frances O'Connor, in Tom and Viv, to become actress of the year.

"As an American actress I have had Tony nominations before but I have such great admiration for the quality of British theatre that I am truly thrilled," Ms Turner said.

But Rock 'n' Roll, Tom Stoppard's first play for the Royal Court, took its share of honours when its male lead, Rufus Sewell, beat another Hollywood star, Kevin Spacey, to be best actor.

The play itself, which is now at the Duke of York's, took the best play honour. Set in Prague and Cambridge, it tells the story of a Czech rock band and three generations of the family of a Marxist philosopher over more than 30 years.

It faced stiff competition from The Seafarer, Peter McPherson's new play at the National, and Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan's recreation of David Frost's interview with shamed American president Richard Nixon, which has transferred from the Donmar to the Gielgud.

However, in recognition of the achievement of Frost/Nixon, which was shortlisted in four categories, it received a special award from Veronica Wadley, the Standard's editor.

Michael Grandage, the artistic director of the Donmar, was the unluckiest nominee. He was thrice shortlisted for best director - for Frost/Nixon and The Wild Duck at his own venue as well as for the musical Evita - only to see the prize go to Marianne Elliot for The Pillars of the Community by Henrik Ibsen at the National. Another National production, Caroline, or Change, by Tony Kushner, set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in Sixties America, was named best musical.

That was a particular honour in what has been a record-breaking year for musicals in London.

Andrew Garfield, 22, was named outstanding newcomer for a string of performances in plays including The Overwhelming at the National and Jonathan Harvey's gay drama Beautiful Thing. Previous winners include Rachel Weisz and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Nina Raine, daughter of the poet Craig, took the £30,000 most promising playwright prize partly funded by Vogue editor Anna Wintour in memory of her late father, Charles, a former Evening Standard editor,

Sunday in the Park with George, the Menier Chocolate Factory's production of Stephen Sondheim's musical about the painter Seurat, won the best design prize.

A special prize went to the Tricycle Theatre for its "pioneering work in political theatre".

The winners

* Best Play: 'Rock 'N' Roll' by Tom Stoppard (Royal Court, then Duke of York's Theatre)

* Best Actor: Rufus Sewell in 'Rock 'N' Roll'

* Best Actress: Kathleen Turner in 'Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?' (Apollo Theatre)

* The Sydney Edwards Award for Best Director: Marianne Elliott for 'Pillars Of The Community' (Lyttelton, National Theatre)

* Best Musical: 'Caroline, Or Change' (Lyttelton, National Theatre)

* The Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer: Andrew Garfield for 'Beautiful Thing'. (Sound Theatre; Cottesloe, National Theatre; Touring then Cottesloe, National Theatre)

* Best Design: Timothy Bird (projection design) and David Farley (set and costume design) for 'Sunday In The Park With George ' (Menier Chocolate Factory then Wyndhams)

* The Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright: Nina Raine for 'Rabbit' (Old Red Lion Theatre, then Trafalgar Studios)

* Editor's Award: Peter Morgan for 'Frost/Nixon' (Donmar, then Gielgud)

* Special Award: Tricycle Theatre for its pioneering work in political theatre

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