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."
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.
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:
Rory Kinnear, "Othello," National Theater, Olivier
Lesley Manville, "Ghosts," Almeida Theater & Trafalgar Studios