Small London theatre dominates at the Olivier Awards

Olivier Awards
Lee Batty, Head of Production for the Olivier Awards, inspects model busts ahead of the big night. Photo: PA

A small theatre in north London has upstaged Hollywood movie stars and the established grand dames of British theatre to take home eight gongs at the Olivier Awards.

Islington's Almeida Theatre beat off competition from the likes of the National Theatre to take home eight awards at Theatreland's annual bash with success for two of its plays, Chimerica and Ghosts.

Leslie Manville
Leslie Manville was one of the Almeida's winners, picking up the best actress award for the play "Ghosts". Credit: PA

Almeida talent beat off top Hollywood talent like Tom Hiddleston, Jude Law, and Dame Judi Dench to take home a number of the top acting awards.

The star-studded event at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden - which ended with Abba duo Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus on stage performing some of their biggest hits with the cast of Mamma Mia! - attracted names including Dame Judi Dench, Tom Hiddleston and Gemma Arterton, who co-hosted with Stephen Mangan.

Abba
Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (right) rehearsing with Emma Crossley and the cast of Mamma Mia ahead of Sunday's show. Credit: PA

The first award of the night set the tone and went to Ghosts - one of the Almeida's hits.

It was accepted by director Sir Richard Eyre, who paid tribute to the "most wonderful cast" in the new production of Ibsen's play.

He said: "For all the successes, you have to be able to fail and that is what subsidy gives you."

Rory Kinnear
Inspiring jealousy - Rory Kinnear picked up the top acting award for his performance of Iago in Shakespeare's Othello. Credit: PA

Rory Kinnear, best known for playing Bill Tanner in the Bond films Skyfall and Quantam of Solace, beat off film stars Tom Hiddleston and Jude Law to the best actor award for his performance as Iago in Othello at the National Theatre.

Accepting his award, he said the part was one of the "most thrilling" of his life.

Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon celebrate their four awards. Credit: PA

One of the other big winners of the night was the controversial musical Book of Mormon, written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

The show, at the Prince of Wales theatre in London's Leicester Square, won two acting gongs, best new musical and a prize for choreography.

Hytner Starr
Sir Nicholas Hytner (left) and Nick Starr (right) win the Special Award, presented by James Corden Credit: PA

Kinnear returned to the stage at the end of the night with James Corden to present a special award to Sir Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr for their work at the National Theatre, which has produced critical and commercial hits including War Horse and One Man, Two Guvnors - in which Corden starred.

Sir Nicholas, who noted all the previous outgoing directors of the National had won a gong for outstanding achievement, joked it should be called the "thank you very much, and now f*** off" award.

  • Best Actor - Rory Kinnear for Othello at the National Theatre.
  • Best Actress - Lesley Manville for Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre & Trafalgar Studios
  • Best Supporting Actor - Jack Lowden for Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre & Trafalgar Studios.
  • Best Supporting Actress - Sharon D Clarke for The Amen Corner at the National Theatre.
  • American Airlines Best New Play - Chimerica at the Almeida Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre.
  • Best New Comedy - Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense at the Duke of York’s Theatre.
  • Best Director - Lyndsey Turner for Chimerica at the Almeida Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre.
  • Best Actor in a Musical - Gavin Creel for The Book Of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
  • Best Actress in a Musical - Zrinka Cviteši? for Once at the Phoenix Theatre
  • Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical - Stephen Ashfield for The Book Of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
  • MasterCard Best New Musical - The Book Of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
  • Best Revival - Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre & Trafalgar Studios.
  • Best Musical Revival - Merrily We Roll Along at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
  • Best Theatre Choreographer - Casey Nicholaw for The Book Of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
  • Best Entertainment and Family - The Wind In The Willows at the Duchess Theatre.
  • Autograph Sound Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music - Once – Martin Lowe for composition & arrangements, Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová for music & lyrics.
  • Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre - Handbagged at the Tricycle Theatre.
  • Best New Dance Production - Eastman - Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Sadler’s Wells for Puz/zle at Sadler’s Wells.
  • Best New Opera Production - Les Vêpres Siciliennes at the Royal Opera House.
  • BBC Radio 2 Audience Award - Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre.
  • Special Awards - Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, Michael White