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Helen Mirren’s Queen Triumphs in U.K. Olivier Awards

'The Audience'
Paul Ritter and Helen Mirren as John Major and the Queen in "The Audience" by Peter Morgan. The play begins in 1995, and then switches back and forth in time. Photographer: Johan Persson/Premier PR via Bloomberg

April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Six years after bagging an Oscar for her role as Elizabeth II in “The Queen,” Helen Mirren won the U.K.’s highest stage honor -- a Laurence Olivier Award -- for her stage portrayal of the monarch in “The Audience.”

Written by Peter Morgan, “The Audience” recreates the Queen’s weekly meetings with prime ministers from Winston Churchill to David Cameron. Richard McCabe (who plays the late premier Harold Wilson) won the prize for best supporting actor. The Oliviers were given out in a televised gala at the Royal Opera House last night.

Collecting her prize, Mirren said Queen Elizabeth herself deserved an Olivier “for the most consistent and committed performance of the 20th century and probably the 21st century.”

The actress also saluted the pair of dogs joining her on stage for the show, Rocky and Coco, “who run on and off every night, wagging their tails.”

The evening’s biggest winner was “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” a National Theatre production adapted from the Mark Haddon bestseller. It took seven trophies, including the best-actor award for Luke Treadaway. He defeated four rivals including Rupert Everett, who had been shortlisted for his performance as Oscar Wilde in “The Judas Kiss.”

The Olivier Awards originated in 1976. They are organized by the Society of London Theatre, which represents the producers, theater owners and managers of 52 major subsidized and commercial theaters in central London.

Olivier Record

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” also won the prizes for best new play, best director (Marianne Elliott), and best supporting actress (Nicola Walker). With a total of seven Oliviers, it matched the record set last year by “Matilda: The Musical.”

“Sweeney Todd” was voted best musical revival, and its stars Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton walked away with the awards for best actor and best actress in a musical. Ball defeated three competitors including pop star Will Young, a nominee for “Cabaret.”

“Top Hat” took three awards including best new musical.

“Einstein on the Beach,” a Barbican Theatre staging of the five-hour work by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass, won best new opera production. U.S. tenor Brian Bryan Hymel won outstanding achievement in opera for his Royal Opera House performances.

The Royal Ballet’s Argentinian-born principal dancer Marianela Nunez clinched the outstanding achievement in dance award for three performances including “Aeternum.” Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon for the Royal Ballet, “Aeternum” took the prize for best new dance production.

The Oliviers are sponsored by Mastercard Inc.

Muse highlights include Richard Vines on food, John Mariani on drink and Craig Seligman on books.

For Related News and Information: Top arts and lifestyle stories: MUSE <GO>. London culture stories: TNI LONDON MUSE <GO>. London theater stories: TNI LONDON THEATER <GO>. More stories by Farah Nayeri: NI NAYERI <GO>.

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri in London farahn@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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