Book of Mormon and Almeida win big at 2014 Olivier Awards
''Mormon'' won four gongs, while ''Chimerica'' and ''Ghosts'' took home eight in total
In a strong year for musicals at the Olivier Awards, The Book of Mormon proved strongest tonight with a total haul of four - matching the number of WhatsOnStage Awards the Trey Parker and Matt Stone musical won back in February.
But, though the Mormons may grab the headlines, there are plenty of other stories to be told from this year's winner's list, not least the triumph of west London powerhouse the Almeida Theatre, which scooped no fewer than eight trophies - five for Lucy Kirkwood's Chimerica and three for Richard Eyre's revival of Ghosts, including Best Actress in a Play for Lesley Manville.
Eyre - who said he'd flew in from Germany earlier in the day and had to get a motorbike taxi to the ceremony, was one of many winners to pay tribute to producer Sonia Friedman, who was behind the West End transfers of both the Almeida productions.
Friedman also counts The Book of Mormon among her stable, so has four more reasons to celebrate tonight; not to mention Merrily We Roll Along, which she also produced in the West End and triumphed in the Best Musical Revival category.
Merrily, which was helmed by directing newbie (and Sonia's sister) Maria Friedman, also shared Best Sound Design (for Gareth Owen) with Chimerica - one of two joint technical awards, the other being Best Lighting Design, which was split between Tim Lutkin and Finn Ross (Chimerica) and Paul Pyant (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
Elsewhere, Moira Buffini's Handbagged at the Tricycle, which recently transferred to the West End, won for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, while Once triumphed in the newly created Outstanding Achievement in Music category.
Once also saw leading lady Zrinka Cvitešić win Best Actress in a Musical; in a gracious speech, Cvitešić said the award was testament to her learning "not to fear the West End stage".
Meanwhile, the publicly voted BBC Radio 2 Audience Award was presented to Les Misérables for a second time.
And this year's Special Award winners were veteran theatre impresario Michael White, who was presented his award by supermodel Kate Moss and actor Nigel Planer, and the National Theatre's Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, who received their joint award from James Corden and Best Actor in a Play winner Rory Kinnear in recognition of their decade in charge of the Southbank venue.
A memorable evening at the Royal Opera House, hosted by Stephen Mangan and Gemma Arterton, featured performances from many of the winning shows, including Mormon, plus special appearances by Bernadette Peters, who sang "Losing My Mind" from Sondheim's Follies, and Abba's Benny and Bjorn, who joined the cast of Mamma Mia! for a show-closing medley to mark the show's 15th anniversary.
Keep posted for more coverage from this year's Olivier Awards