By Michael Roddy
LONDON (Reuters) - The London production of "Book of Mormon" won best musical at the Olivier Awards on Sunday, and its star Gavin Creel took home the award for best actor in a musical.
A staging of Stephen Sondheim's one-time flop "Merrily We Roll Along" won the award for best musical revival while an adaptation of Ibsen's "Ghosts" was another big winner at Britain's biggest night for theatre.
The play "Chimerica" examining the relations between China and America won best new play award for playwright Lucy Kirkwood and best director award for Lyndsey Turner, and overall was the biggest award winner, taking away five.
"To come to the West End for us was a privilege and this award is an absolute honor," Anne Garefino, co-producer of "Book of Mormon" said in accepting the evening's top award for the London theatre district production of the show by "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
"It's one of those things where you pinch yourself," Creel said after the awards, adding that when he was growing up in Ohio he used to walk around the kitchen dreaming of winning an award, and now he wouldn't have to do that anymore.
The award was presented to Garefino and co-producer Sonia Friedman by ABBA singers and creative team Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, after which the show ended with a medley of ABBA hits.
Richard Eyre, the director who mounted the revival of "Ghosts" which got rave reviews and closed three weeks ago after 170 performances, got the nod for having produced the year's best revival of a play.
Lesley Manville was named best actress for her performance as Helene in "Ghosts" while Jack Lowden received the best supporting actor award for his performance as Oswald in the same production.
Manville said that Eyre's adaptation of Ibsen's 1881 play had taken it in a new direction.
"It was very visceral, very emotional and the audience was very engaged," Manville said.
The award for best actor in a play went to Rory Kinnear who attributed his win partly to his character of Iago in Shakespeare's "Othello" being an audience favorite.
"Iago has got a rapport with the audience. People love the villain," Kinnear said.
The star-studded ceremony included appearances by model Kate Moss, opera singers Lesley Garrett and Joseph Calleja, actor James McAvoy and actresses Bernadette Peters, Kathleen Turner, Hayley Atwell and Judi Dench.
Dench had been nominated for best actress for her role in "Peter and Alice" but it was not a great night for Hollywood personalities as she, Jude Law and Tim Hiddleston, all nominees, lost out.
Winners were as follows:
Best new musical: "Book of Mormon"
Special award - Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr of Britain's National Theatre
Best actress in a musical: Zrinka Cvitesic for "Once"
Best actor in a musical: Gavin Creel
Best supporting role in a musical: Stephen Ashfield in "Book of Mormon"
Best director: Lyndsey Turner for "Chimerica"
Best new play: "Chimerica"
Best musical revival: "Merrily We Roll Along"
Outstanding achievement in music: "Once"
Best theatre choreographer: Casey Nicholaw "Book of Mormon"
Outstanding achievement in dance: Michael Hulls
Best new dance production: "Puzzle" Sadler's Wells-Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Outstanding achievement in an affiliate theatre: "Handbagged"
Audience favorite: "Les Miserables"
Outstanding achievement in opera: English Touring Opera
Best new opera production: Verdi's "Les Vepres Siciliennes" Royal Opera House
Best new comedy: "Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense"
Best family entertainment: "The Wind in the Willows"
Best set design: Es Devlin for "Chimerica"
Best costume design: Mark Thompson for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
Best sound design: Gareth Owen for "Merrily We Roll Along"/Carolyn Downing for "Chimerica"
Best lighting: Finn Ross and Tim Lutkin for "Chimerica"/ Paul Pyant and Jon Driscoll for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
Best actor: Rory Kinnear for "Othello"
Best actress: Lesley Manville for "Ghosts"
Best supporting actress: Sharon Clarke in "The Amen Corner"
Best supporting actor: Jack Lowden in "Ghosts"
Best revival: Richard Eyre for Ibsen's "Ghosts"
(Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)