The look on Paul Tully's face was of sheer disbelief.
'I'm completely overwhelmed,' he said. 'I thought the production stood a better chance of winning an award.'
And it is true that South Downe Musical Society's staging of Jekyll And Hyde was highly competitive, even in a hot category.
But despite the wealth of inner life in the production, it had to stand or fall ultimately on the actor playing the title role of the doctor whose well-intentioned scientific experiments lead him to become a killer. Paul's success was in credibly portraying the two sides of human nature.
Yet after receiving his award he was determined to deflect praise on to director John-Paul McCrohon and musical director Alan Pring.
Paul, 39, said: 'John-Paul was invited to do something with South Downe for the first time and although he had a very limited time with us he was completely inspirational.
'Alan Pring had the orchestra at the top of its game, and it was when we heard that rich sound that we thought the show might work. But he also spent a lot of time with me developing the range of the part.
'It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears to put the show on but once the first night was over the audience really turned out to like it.'
Runner-up was Sean Ridley for Journey's End (with Bedlam Theatre Company) and Rent (with CCADS).
The awards were presented by David Cooper, general manager of the sponsoring Kings Theatre.