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‘Curious Incident’ Sweeps London’s Olivier Awards

National Theater's novel adaptation notches seven; Helen Mirren also takes a trophy

Marianne Elliott’s National Theater production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” swept the boards at this year’s Olivier Awards with seven wins, equaling last year’s record-breaking “Matilda.”

Adapted by playwright Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s novel, the drama bagged almost all the majors, including honors for play, director Elliott (previously best known as helmer of “War Horse”), leading actor Luke Treadaway, supporting actress Nicola Walker, set design (Bunny Christie and Finn Ross), sound (Ian Dickinson and Adrian Sutton) plus Paule Constable’s fourth win for lighting design.

The remaining major award in the play categories, lead actress, went to Helen Mirren for “The Audience,” in which she again plays Queen Elizabeth II, the role that won her the Academy Award in 2007. The same production also nabbed supporting actor for Richard McCabe as former Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Those two wins were part of a haul of five for producer Matthew Byam Shaw and Playful Prods. Their Chichester Festival Theater production of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” also waltzed off with a hat-trick, scoring trophies for musical revival as well as actor and actress in a musical for leads Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.

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The new musical award went to “Top Hat,” which also won for choreography (Bill Deamer) and costumes (Jon Morrell). In a year of slim pickings, its only remotely serious competish for tuner was “The Bodyguard,” which left the ceremony empty-handed. It was beaten in the supporting performance in a musical category by Leigh Zimmerman for her perf as Sheila in “A Chorus Line,” the latter production’s sole win.

The prize for achievement in an affiliate theater went to the season of new writing at Royal Court’s Theater Upstairs, programmed by outgoing a.d. Dominic Cooke. The Court’s slew of critical and box-office hits included “Choir Boy” by U.S. dramatist Tarell Alvin McCraney and Jez Butterworth’s quiet chiller “The River.”

As revealed by Variety earlier this year, these awards were, for the first time, voted for not by a selected panel of independent judges but by the 153-strong membership of the Society of London Theaters. It is noticeable that although the success of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” mean that the not-for-profit National Theater emerged as the big winner, that show’s chances were maximized by its having settled into a still-running West End transfer. Other National Theater shows that only played at the company’s nonprofit South Bank home were shut out.

The same applied to much-fancied productions of “Wild Swans” and “A Doll’s House” at the Young Vic. Both scooped prizes at other legit ceremonies but Olivier voters are unlikely to have seen either of them during their strictly limited runs, not least because the new voting system was only agreed late in the year, months after several nominated productions had closed.

The only award voted for by members of the public, the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award for long-runners, went to “Billy Elliot,” now in its ninth year.

Hosted by two-time Olivier winner Sheridan Smith and Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”) and broadcast for the first time by ITV, the ceremony included presenters Kim Cattrall, Tom Hiddleston, Damian Lewis, Lara Pulver and Daniel Radcliffe and perfs from Matthew Morrison, Idina Menzel, Petula Clark, Tim Minchin and Ball.

Choreographer Gillian Lynne (“Cats,” “The Phantom of the Opera”), and playwright Michael Frayn (“Noises Off,” “Copenhagen”) received lifetime achievement awards.

And the 2013 Olivier Award winners are: 

Mastercard Best New Play

Simon Stephens, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” National Theater/Apollo Theater

Director

Marianne Elliott, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Actor

Luke Treadaway, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,”

Actress

Helen Mirren, “The Audience,” Gielgud Theater

Supporting Actress

Nicola Walker, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Supporting Actor

Richard McCabe, “The Audience”

White Light Award for Lighting

Paule Constable, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

XL Video Award for Set Design

Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Sound

Ian Dickinson and Adrian Sutton, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

New Musical

“Top Hat,” Aldwych Theater

Musical Revival

“Sweeney Todd,” Adelphi Theater

Actor in a Musical

Michael Ball, “Sweeney Todd”

Actress in a Musical

Imelda Staunton, “Sweeney Todd”

Choreography

Bill Deamer, “Top Hat”

Costume

Jon Morrell, “Top Hat”

Supporting Role in a Musical

Leigh Zimmerman, “A Chorus Line”

Revival

“Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” Apollo Theater

Entertainment/Family Show

“Goodnight Mister Tom,” Phoenix Theater

Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theater 
The Season of New Writing at the Jerwood Theater Upstairs at the Royal Court

New Dance Production

“Aeternum,” choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, Royal Ballet,

Outstanding Achievement in Dance 

Marianela Nunez for “Aeternum,” “Diana and Actaeon” and “Viscera,” Royal Ballet

New Opera Production 

“Einstein on the Beach,” the Barbican

Outstanding Achievement in Opera 

Bryan Hymel for his performances in “Les Troyens,” “Robert Le Diable” and “Rusalka” at the Royal Opera

Audience Award

“Billy Elliot,” Victoria Palace

Special Awards

Michael Frayn

Gillian Lynne

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