‘Curious Incident’ sweeps Oliviers, Helen Mirren finally wins

 “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” won seven of its eight Oliver Awards bids, tying the record set by the tuner “Matilda” last year. (See full list of winners here.)

Simon Stephen‘s adaptation of Mark Haddon‘s bestselling mystery about a boy with Aspergers who sets out to discover who killed his dog won Best Play, Actor (Luke Treadway), Featured Actress (Nicola Walker) and the four design awards. This record haul could mean a Broadway run for this Brit hit, much like “Matilda” which is expected to dominate Tuesday’s Tony nominations. 

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The legit version of the 1935 Astaire-Rogers “Top Hat” won three of its seven bids — Best Musical, Costumes and Choreography — edging out “Curious Incident” among others for the latter. 

Helen Mirren won Best Actress (Play) for reprising her 2007 Oscar-winning role as Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan‘s “The Audience.” Dame Helen had lost her three previous Olivier races. Richard McCabe, who plays Harold Wilson in the piece about the monarch and her prime ministers, won for his featured performance as well. 

A remounting of Stephen Sondheim‘s 1979 Tony-winning “Sweeney Tood” won three of its six races: Best Musical Revival and for stars Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton. Those roles of the demon barber and his pie-making mistress won Tonys for Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury for the original run. Likewise, Leigh Silverman won the combined featured performance prize for her turn as the sardonic Sheila in “A Chorus Line,” just as Kelly Bishop did back in 1976 for the premiere of this Pulitzer and Tony champ. 

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This year, voting was overhauled as the 160 suits who belong to the Society of London Theatres joined a small panel of theater pros and the public in determining the winners. Not surprisingly, commercial ventures dominated these prizes which had previously been won primarily by fare from the subsidized sector. 

These top British theater kudos are named for Laurence Olivier, the celebrated English actor who enjoyed success in Hollywood as well, winning the Best Actor Oscar for “Hamlet” (1948) and contending another nine times.

The awards were doled out at the Royal Opera House on April 28 with “Downton Abbey” star Hugh Bonneville co-hosting with two-time Olivier winner Sheridan Smith. Unlike the Tony Awards, which are showcased live on CBS, the Oliviers get only a clips package on ITV later that evening and a live feed on BBC Radio 2.  

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