Staunton played Mrs Lovett, the dark character opposite Sweeney Todd himself, who helps him in the murder of a variety of Londoners and turning them into pies to sell to the general Victorian public. Michael Ball played Sweeney Todd and was nominated for the same award. However, it was perhaps "all her comic talent as Mrs Lovett to try to alleviate the tale's grisliness" that pushed Staunton one step ahead of Ball in the competition, reports the BBC.
The Chichester Festival Theatre's production of the musical, directed by Jonathan Kent, also received the most nominations in the awards, but alas lost out winning 'Best Musical' to The Go-Between which was based on the novel by L.P. Hartley. Sadly, Staunton wasn't available to pick the prize up herself, but loyal co-star Ball did the honours, quipping that he "had the best time playing Ernie to her Eric". Staunton said she was "totally indebted to the wonderful Jonathan Kent for his superb direction".
Other winners at the awards included Anne Boleyn (as best touring production), The Next Room (as best new play) and Aidan McArdle won best supporting performance for his role in Democracy. A special award for services to theatre was also awarded to Timothy West and Prunella Scales.