Entertainment & Arts

Book of Mormon musical triumphs at Olivier Awards

London cast of The Book of Mormon Image copyright Johan Persson
Image caption The Book of Mormon previously won nine Tony awards in the US, including best musical

West End hit The Book of Mormon has won four prizes at the 2014 Olivier Awards, including best new musical.

The controversial brainchild of South Park co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone also won two acting awards and an additional prize for its choreography.

Political drama Chimerica was the main winner of the night, receiving three awards outright and sharing two others.

Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of Abba were among the performers at the central London event.

The Swedish music stars played together on stage and were joined by the current London cast of Mamma Mia! at the end of the ceremony to celebrate the musical's 15 years in the West End.

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Media captionHighlights and interviews from the Olivier Awards

Named after the actor, knight and theatrical giant Lord Olivier, the awards are presented annually by the Society of London Theatre (Solt).

The Book of Mormon, about two Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in Uganda, saw Gavin Creel and Stephen Ashfield win best actor in a musical and best supporting performance in a musical respectively.

The Broadway version of the show won nine Tony awards in 2011. Producer Sonia Friedman told the audience the Olivier win was "the biggest shock of my life".

The other prize for musical performing went to Croatia's Zrinka Cvitesic, named best actress in a musical for Once. "I don't know if you guys are aware of this, but you just changed Croatian history,'' she said.

Other award recipients on Sunday included Rory Kinnear, crowned best actor for his role as Iago in the National Theatre production of Othello.

He described it as "the most thrilling professional experience of my life" and praised co-star Adrian Lester's "astonishing" performance as Othello.

"Iago has a great rapport with the audience. People love the villain," Kinnear said backstage.

The actor, playwright and son of comedy star Roy was up against two other Shakespearean performances in his category - Jude Law's Henry V and Tom Hiddleston's Coriolanus.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kinnear previously won an Olivier in 2008 while Manville was nominated in 2012

The best actress prize went to Lesley Manville for her work in the Almeida Theatre production of the Henrik Ibsen play Ghosts.

"Oh, Larry, where have you been all my life?'' said Manville, clutching her statuette of Laurence Olivier.

Sir Richard Eyre's 90-minute staging of the bleak Norwegian drama won the best revival award, while Manville's co-star Jack Lowden was named best actor in a supporting role.

"Suicide, euthanasia, feminism, syphilis, morality - you name it, it's in the play," Sir Richard said backstage. "It's a staggering piece of writing."

The success of both Ghosts and Chimerica gave Islington's Almeida a total haul of eight awards on the night. Both productions later transferred to the West End.

Sharon D Clarke received the female equivalent for The Amen Corner at the National, whose outgoing artistic director, Sir Nicholas Hytner, shared a special outstanding achievement award with its executive director Nick Starr.

The was also a special achievement award for theatre impresario Michael White - who brought shows such as A Chorus Line, Oh! Calcutta! and The Rocky Horror Show to the West End.

Maria Friedman's production of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along was named best musical revival, while long-running success Les Miserables won the BBC Radio 2 audience award - a prize it also took in 2012.

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Media captionBenny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus reflect on the success of Mamma Mia!

Perfect Nonsense, a play featuring PG Wodehouse's popular Jeeves and Wooster characters, won the prize for best new comedy, presented for the first time since 2010.

It was Chimerica, though, that had most to celebrate after winning best new play, best director for Lyndsey Turner and best set design for Es Devlin.

Lucy Kirkwood's play, about the so-called "tank man" who defied the Chinese army in Tiananmen Square in 1989, also shared the awards for lighting design and sound, with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Merrily Me Roll Along respectively.

The full list of winners is on the Olivier Awards website.

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