The winners of the 39th Olivier Awards were announced this evening at the Royal Opera House, in a ceremony hosted by Lenny Henry and climaxing in a show-stopping rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Special Award winner Kevin Spacey and nominee Beverley Knight.
Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon, which started life at Hampstead Theatre, led the pack with four awards, including for its leading men John Dagleish and George Maguire, who play Ray Davies and his brother Dave. It beat competition from Beautiful, Memphis and Here Lies Love – all of which performed during the ceremony – to claim Best New Musical.
Davies himself collected the award for Outstanding Achievement in Music, for penning the iconic Kinks songs that form the spine of the show. Two of them,"Lola" and "You Really Got Me", were performed by the cast on the Opera House stage, with the celebrity-filled audience invoked to clap along.
But the biggest ovation of the night went to Dame Angela Lansbury, collecting her first Olivier Award at the age of 89 for her portrayal of Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit. Gripping the statue, the Murder She Wrote star exclaimed she was "infinitely grateful to have this baby in my hands", adding that her journey had started on the London stage when she starred in a play alongside Peggy Ashcroft. She couldn't remember the name of it, she said, but could still remember her lines.
Ivo Van Hove's acclaimed Young Vic revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge won three awards – Best Revival, Best Director and Best Actor for Mark Strong. Accepting his award, Strong said he was thrilled by the number of young people who came to see the play and "wanted to talk about what they were seeing".
Mike Bartlett's Shakespearean 'future history' play King Charles III won Best New Play, with Bartlett thanking the Royal family in his speech for "not shutting us down". Bartlett’s Bull was also among the winners, for Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre for its run at the Young Vic, completing a strong night for the Cut venue.
It was also a good night for Donmar artistic director Josie Rourke, whose production of City of Angels – the first musical she has directed – won two awards, Best Lighting (Howard Harrison) and Best Musical Revival.
Carole King bio-musical Beautiful saw Katie Brayben and Lorna Want win for Best Actress in a Musical and Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical for their portrayals of King and Cynthia Weil respectively.
Elsewhere, Penelope Wilton was a popular winner, claiming Best Actress for her performance in Taken At Midnight, beating competition from Gillian Anderson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Imelda Staunton.
Former WhatsOnStage Award winner The Play That Goes Wrong completed its remarkable rise to prominence, having started life at the tiny Old Red Lion pub theatre in Islington two years ago, by being crowned Best New Comedy.
The opera categories were dominated by Richard Jones's production of The Mastersingers Of Nuremberg, which ENO artistic director John Berry said resonated at a time when arts subsidy is under threat.
There were no shortage of stellar performers on the night, from Nichole Scherzinger to David Byrne and Kevin Spacey, who received his award – marking his 11-year tenure as artistic director of the Old Vic – from Dame Judi Dench.
And Akram Khan performed a special tribute to the night's other Special Award winner – retiring French ballet star Sylvie Guillem, who said the award represented "39 years of pleasure".
Look out for further coverage from the Oliviers, including photos and video