Almeida Theatre and ‘Chimerica’ star in Olivier awards

The stage play Chimerica dominated Sunday night’s Olivier Awards, winning in five categories, including best new play and best director for Lyndsey Turner.

The result came as no surprise: Lucy Kirkwood’s dramatisation of Sino-American relations had been praised by critics and was a sellout success.

But the biggest winner of the night was the Almeida Theatre in Islington, north London, where Chimerica was launched last year before its transfer to the West End.

In addition to the five awards for that production, the Almeida scooped a further three for Ghosts, including best actress for Lesley Manville.

Rory Kinnear was awarded best actor for his performance as Iago in the National Theatre’s production of Othello.

The National Theatre’s director, Sir Nicholas Hytner, and executive director, Nick Starr – both soon to step down after a decade in charge of the London South Bank venue – jointly received a special award for outstanding achievement.

The Oliviers, the most respected of the UK’s theatrical awards, now celebrating their 38th year, were announced at a ceremony at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and were presented by actors Gemma Arterton and Stephen Mangan.

The Royal Opera’s own production of Verdi’s Les Vêpres siciliennes won best new opera production, while English Touring Opera’s productions of Michael Tippett’s King Priam and Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan at the Linbury Studio Theatre earned ETO the award for outstanding achievement in opera.

The Book of Mormon, one of the most highly anticipated arrivals of last year, saw off competition from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to win best new musical and best actor in a musical.

Les Misérables, the West End stalwart, won the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award, the only prize decided by votes from the public.

Musical theatre was the theme for the evening, which featured Abba’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. With current cast members from the musical Mamma Mia! they performed a finale to celebrate the show’s 15 years on stage.

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