Ejiofor victorious at Oliviers


LONDON -- Chiwetel Ejiofor won the battle of Shakespeare's tragic kings 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."

Richard E. Grant was host of the awards ceremony, with presenters including Kevin Spacey, Jeff Goldblum, Tamsin Greig and Kelly Osbourne. The evening featured performances from the nominated musicals plus a tribute to the works of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who received a lifetime achievement award.

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 follows.

New play
"A Disappearing Number," by Simon McBurney at the Barbican

New musical
"Hairspray," book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, based upon the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters

New comedy
"Rafta, Rafta," by Ayub Khan-Din, based on "All in Good Time" by Bill Naughton, at the Lyttelton

"Saint Joan," by Bernard Shaw at the Olivier

Musical revival
"The Magic Flute -- Impempe Yomlingo," adapted from Mozart by Mark Dornford-May, words and music by Mandisi Dyantyis, Mbali Kgosidintsi, Pauline Malefane and Nolufefe Mtshabe at the Young Vic

Rupert Goold for "Macbeth" at the Gielgud

Chiwetel Ejiofor for "Othello" at the Donmar Warehouse

Kristin Scott Thomas for "The Seagull" at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court

Actor in a musical
Michael Ball for "Hairspray" at the Shaftesbury

Actress in a musical
Leanne Jones for "Hairspray" at the Shaftesbury

Performance in a supporting role
Rory Kinnear for "The Man of Mode" at the Olivier

Performance in a supporting role in a musical
Tracie Bennett for "Hairspray" at the Shaftesbury

Newcomer in a play
Tom Hiddleston for "Cymbeline" at the Barbican

Theater choreographer
Toby Sedgwick for "War Horse" at the Olivier

Lighting design
"Macbeth" designed by Howard Harrison at the Gielgud

Sound design
"Saint Joan" designed by Paul Arditti with music by Jocelyn Pook at the Olivier

Costume design
"The Man of Mode" designed by Vicki Mortimer at the Olivier

Set design
"War Horse" designed by Rae Smith and Handspring Puppet Company at the Olivier

Outstanding achievement or performance in an affiliate theater
"Gone Too Far" at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court

New dance production
The Royal Ballet's "Jewels" at the Royal Opera House

Outstanding achievement in dance
The Royal Ballet Company for "Jewels"

New opera production
The Royal Opera's "Pelleas et Melisande" at the Royal Opera House

Outstanding achievement in opera
Natalie Dessay for her performance in "La Filled u Regiment" at the Royal Opera House

The Society's Special Award
Andrew Lloyd Webber