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Latest in a list of awards to honour an illustrious career; THEATRE PRIZE FOR ACTRESS WHO WOWED THE CRITICS.

Byline: SAM TEGELTIJA sam.tegeltija@walesonline.co.uk

SHE won a best actress gong in 1977 for her role in I, Claudius, and a CBE in 2000 for her services to acting.

And 36 years after her memorable Bafta triumph, Welsh acting treasure Sian Phillips last night picked up her latest industry accolade - at the age of 80.

Phillips, who wowed the critics in her latest roles as a grandmother in This is My Family, won the best supporting performance award at the National Theatre Awards 2013.

In a double Welsh celebration the play - directed by fellow South Wales talent Daniel Evans - was named best musical production.

Phillips, who was born in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen in the Swansea Valley, made her debut aged 10 playing a ginger tom cat on BBC Radio Wales.

After receiving her award at London's Guildhall Theatre, she told the Western Mail: "I am very happy at the moment. In the last three or four years I have done some very interesting plays - and I regard This Is My Family very highly in my career as a whole.

"And today's awards ceremony was wonderful, held in one of the most beautiful and grand places I have ever been to.

"I didn't know I'd won the award before it was announced - and I was astonished. I'd just got off a train from Manchester where I am currently working, and I honestly did not see it coming!" Her role is the latest in an illustrious acting career that has seen her win plaudits for roles in films including How Green Was My Valley, A Little Night Music, Marlene and Cabaret.

Speaking about the new award-winning musical, Phillips - who was once married to Peter O'Toole - describes it as being wonderful and unusual in equal measures.

She added: "It was a risk. We've been workshopping it for years now, and we had a wonderful time there in Sheffield.

"It was one of the nicest things I've ever done, but we didn't quite know how it would go.

"It's about a family who goes on holiday - that's it really! It's quite unusual with only six characters, and there are songs throughout without much dialogue. There are very few scenes which is a very innovative concept. But that's why it worked.

"People could relate to all six characters, whether it is my role as the grandmother, or the mother, or the daughter who narrates throughout."

Phillips also revealed she jumped at the chance to work with Rhondda product Evans, whose work she has always admired.

"Being able to work with Daniel was one of the main attractions of going to work in Sheffield," she said. "I had been looking for a chance to work with him.

"It came about when he rang me one day, and asked me if I would like to do it. And I loved every minute of being at the Crucible. It is a wonderful and well-run theatre." In the meantime, Phillips is touring with a National Theatre production of Alan Bennett's People, and will then be heading to the US before returning to Wales.

She added: "I'm involved in this fantastic play until the middle of November, and then I am going to Washington to work with another Welshman, Keith Baxter, for The Importance of Being Earnest."

Last night's win capped a triumphant year for Evans, who runs Sheffield Theatres. Another Sheffield production won best play with Bull by Mike Bartlett, a 55-minute performance based around three employees who are waiting to learn which of them has been axed by their boss. And Sheffield Theatre Productions work, The Full Monty, was named best touring production.

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| This is my Family starring Sian Phillips as May and Evelyn Hoskins as Nicky at the Crucible Studio Theatre. Left, with her best actress award PICTURE: Keith Pattison
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Article Type:Awards list
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 21, 2013
Words:636
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