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‘Book of Mormon,’ ‘Chimerica’ Score at London’s Olivier Awards

North London’s 326-seat, not-for-profit Almeida Theater was the runaway winner at the 2014 Olivier Awards, along with the West End version of the Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon.”

The Almeida and Headlong co-production of Lucy Kirkwood’s new play “Chimerica” netted five awards, the largest haul of the night, plus three for Richard Eyre’s production of Ibsen’s “Ghosts.” Both shows were transferred to the West End by Sonia Friedman whose exceptional tally climbed still further — to a remarkable total of 14 — comprised of her four tuner wins for the London production of “Book of Mormon” for which she is lead producer, and two for “Merrily We Roll Along” which won Best Musical Revival and shared Best Sound with “Chimerica.”

“Chimerica” won for New Play, Sound, Set Design, Director and Lighting, the latter shared with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which had a disappointing night, its only other mention being Mark Thompson’s win for Best Costumes. Richard Eyre’s taut Almeida production of his own translation of “Ghosts,” now rumored to be eying a Broadway berth, won Best Revival and proved a popular win for lead actress Lesley Manville as well as Best Supporting Actor for Jack Lowden.

In a tough year for tuners, “Mormon” dominated the stiff competish winning Best New Musical. Best Actor in a Musical went to Gavin Creel, Stephen Ashfield won Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his highly praised turn as Elder McKinley and Casey Nicolaw won for Best Choreography.

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Elsewhere, “Once” bagged two prizes. Martin Lowe won the inaugural Outstanding Achievement In Music award, and the show’s Croatian leading lady Zrinka Cvitesi picked up Best Actress in a Musical, beating out the widely tipped Rosalie Craig for her performance in the title role of the Tori Amos tuner “The Light Princess,” which went home empty-handed.

Best Actor went to Rory Kinnear in the National’s production of “Othello” helmed by outgoing a.d. Nicholas Hytner who, together with exec director Nick Starr, won a special award for their ten-year tenure. The National’s production of “The Amen Corner,” helmed by incoming a.d. Rufus Norris, won Best Supporting Actress for Sharon D. Clarke.

Maria Friedman’s Menier Chocolate Factory production of Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” was named Best Musical Revival for its critically acclaimed run at the Harold Pinter Theater, while Best New Comedy went to “Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense” at the Duke of York’s. Will Tuckett’s dance version of children’s classic “The Wind In The Willows,” the Royal Opera House’s first West End transfer, won Best Entertainment.

This year’s decisions reflect the shift in the judging system. Until 2012, an independent panel of eight judged the awards. Late that year, the panel was sidelined and voting placed almost completely into the hands of the members of the Society of London Theater (SOLT) who are producers, general managers and theater owners. This is the first year in which SOLT members have known throughout the year that they would control the vast majority of the votes.

Although not in the same league as expensive and expansive Oscar campaigns, lobbying by certain orgs including “Mormon” has been seen for the first time. It is notable that alongside Friedman’s haul, ATG, the largest theater chain with the most votes, has done particularly well with 13 awards for productions in its theaters.

The 38th Olivier Awards, hosted by Brit thesps Stephen Mangan and Gemma Arterton, took place at the Royal Opera House with special guest performances from Bernadette Peters and Abba’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, the latter pair celebrating 15 years of “Mamma Mia!” in the West End and performing the show’s finale with the current cast.

 

And the winners are:

 

ACTOR

Rory Kinnear, “Othello,” National Theater, Olivier

 

ACTRESS

Lesley Manville, “Ghosts,” Almeida Theater & Trafalgar Studios

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Jack Lowden,”Ghosts”

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Sharon D. Clarke,”The Amen Corner,” National Theater, Olivier

 

NEW PLAY

“Chimerica,” Almeida Theater & Harold Pinter Theater

 

NEW COMEDY

“Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense,” Duke of York’s Theater

 

DIRECTOR

Lyndsey Turner, “Chimerica”

 

ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Gavin Creel, “The Book of Mormon,” Prince of Wales Theater

 

ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Zrinka Cvitesia,”Once,” Phoenix Theater

 

PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Stephen Ashfield, “The Book Of Mormon”

 

NEW MUSICAL

“The Book of Mormon

 

REVIVAL

“Ghosts”

 

MUSICAL REVIVAL

“Merrily We Roll Along,” Harold Pinter Theater

 

THEATER CHOREOGRAPHER

Casey Nicholaw, “The Book of Mormon”

 

ENTERTAINMENT AND FAMILY

“The Wind in the Willows,” Duchess Theater

 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC

“Once” – Martin Lowe for composition & arrangements, Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova  music & lyrics

 

LIGHTING DESIGN

Tim Lutkin & Finn Ross,”Chimerica”

Paul Pyant, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Theater Royal Drury Lane

 

SOUND DESIGN

Carolyn Downing, “Chimerica”

 

COSTUME DESIGN

Mark Thompson, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

 

SET DESIGN

Es Devlin, “Chimerica”

 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN AN AFFILIATE THEATER

“Handbagged,” Tricycle Theater

 

NEW DANCE PRODUCTION

“Eastman,” Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Sadler’s Wells

 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE

Michael Hulls, for his body of lighting work including Ballet Boyz – The Talent at Sadler’s Wells

 

NEW OPERA PRODUCTION

“Les Vepres Siciliennes.” Royal Opera House

 

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA

English Touring Opera for its brave and challenging touring productions, Linbury Studio Theater, Royal Opera House

 

BBC RADIO 2 AUDIENCE AWARD FOR A LONG-RUNNER

Les Misérables

 

SPECIAL AWARDS

Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr for their outstanding tenure at the National Theater tenure at the National Theater

Michael White

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