Andrew Scott said Noël Coward “smuggled modern ideas about sexuality and gender” into his plays.

Scott picked up the Best Actor Award, in partnership with Ambassador Theatre Group, for his “glorious” role in Present Laughter at tonight’s 65th Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

Accepting the award from Ruth Wilson, Scott said: “I’d like to thank Noël Coward himself. I think sometimes he’s accused of being a dusty old playwright but he smuggles through comedy really modern ideas about sexuality and gender. He sort of says it’s ok to live a life that’s less ordinary.”

Addressing the young theatre-makers in the audience, he said: “For those of you at the back who are about to embark on this life less ordinary I would suggest that it’s a very honourable one, so good luck to you.”

He also thanked the Old Vic, the first London stage he acted on when he moved from Ireland, and paid tribute to his co-stars: “I think actors are the most generous, fun, kind, sexy people to spend your life with.”

Scott played the “suave and wickedly scathing” Garry, an actor facing a midlife crisis, in Coward’s semi-autobiographical comedy at the Old Vic. The Standard’s five star review called this “Andrew Scott’s show” in which he gave a “virtuoso performance”.

Scott saw off strong competition in the Best Actor category from Tom Hiddleston (Betrayal), K. Todd Freeman (Downstate), Francis Guinan (Downstate) and Wendell Pierce (Death of a Salesman).

You can read the full list of winners here.

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