Ejiofor victorious at Olivier nods


Chiwetel Ejiofor won the battle of Shakespeare's tragedies Sunday, taking the Laurence Olivier Award for best actor for his title performance in "Othello." Kristin Scott Thomas was named best actress for "The Seagull," and the Broadway smash "Hairspray" picked up four prizes, including best new musical.

Ejiofor, whose film credits range from Steven Spielberg's "Amistad" in 1997 to Ridley Scott's "American Gangster" last year, triumphed in the British equivalent of the Tony Awards over competition that included Ian McKellen in "King Lear" and Patrick Stewart in "Macbeth."

Ewan McGregor, who co-starred as Iago in the Donmar Warehouse's hit production of "Othello," was not nominated. Tom Hiddleston, who also was nominated for playing Cassio in "Othello," won as best newcomer for "Cymbeline" at the Barbican.

Rupert Goold, who directed Stewart in "Macbeth," was named best director, and Rory Kinnear won for best performance in a supporting role for the National's revival of George Etherege's restoration comedy "The Man of Mode," which also won for Vicki Mortimer's costume design.

Already a Tony winner, "Hairspray" had a record-breaking 11 nominations heading into the Olivier Awards presentation at Grosvenor House but won just four, including best actor in a musical for West End veteran Michael Ball, best actress in a musical for newcomer Leanne Jones and best performance in a supporting role in a musical for Tracie Bennett.

"Hairspray" and two other musicals also were nominated for best choreography, but the honor went to Toby Sedgwick, who devised the movement for the huge puppet horses in the National Theatre's hit production of "War Horse." The show's set designers, Rae Smith and the Handspring Puppet Company, also won.

Simon McBurney's Complicite production of "A Disappearing Number" at the Barbican, about mathematics and art, was named best new play; the National Theatre's offering of Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan," directed by Marianne Elliott, won as best play revival and for Paul Arditti's sound design; and the Young Vic's presentation "The Magic Flute: Impempe Yomlingo," which set the Mozart classic in South Africa, won the award for best musical revival.

Ayub Khan-Din's "Rafta, Rafta" at the National was honored as best new comedy. Set among Asians in a northern English city, it's an adaptation of Bill Naughton's 1963 play "All In Good Time," which was made into the 1966 Hayley Mills film "The Family Way."

Presented by the Society of London Theatre since 1976, the annual prizes were named the Laurence Olivier Awards in 1984.

A complete list of winners is available at THR.com.