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'The Mountaintop,' 'Spring Awakening' top Olivier Awards

March 22, 2010 |  8:33 am

Olivier Awards The Olivier Awards -- Britain's equivalent of the Tony Awards -- revealed the winners of the 34th edition of the kudos Sunday at London's Grosvenor House. Topping the list of acting winners was Oscar champ Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener") for her work as Blanche DuBois in a revival of the play "A Streetcar Named Desire." Weisz -- who had already won the precursor Evening Standard and Critics Choice awards -- edged out competition that included Emmy winner Gillian Anderson ("The X-Files") for a revival of "A Doll's House," also at the Donmar Warehouse.

Tony winner Mark Rylance ("Boeing-Boeing") -- who also won the Critics Choice -- took home the best actor in a play prize for "Jerusalem." Among those he won over were Jude Law -- who had picked up the best Shakespearean performance prize for "Hamlet" at the Critics Choice Awards -- and two-time Tony champ James Earl Jones ("The Great White Hope," "Fences") in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," which won the play revival prize.

Though "Jerusalem" -- a new work by Jez Butterworth -- had six nominations, it only won for Rylance and set design. Lucy Prebble's "Enron" also had six bids but prevailed only for best director (Rupert Goold). Both of these contemporary works lost best play to the historical drama "The Mountaintop" by American Katori Hall. "The Mountaintop" -- a stark look at the last day in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- is now virtually assured a Broadway run later in the year. Productions of "Jerusalem" and "Enron" are opening on Broadway next month, making them eligible for this season's Tony Award nominations, which will be announced May 4. 

Unlike the Tonys, the Oliviers have a separate category for best comedy. Butterworth had a bid there as well with "Parlour Song" but lost to "The Priory," a farce about the misadventures of a group of friends on holiday, by Michael Wynne.

Many Olivier winners have crossed the Atlantic in the past -- such as last season's top Tony champs "God of Carnage" and "Billy Elliot." This year, Broadway returned the favor as 2007 Tony-winning best musical "Spring Awakening" won that award here also, as well as best actor (Aneurin Barnard), supporting performer (Iwan Rheon) and sound design.

Unlike the Tony Awards -- with several dozen members of a committee setting the slate and then almost 700 voters choosing the champs -- the Olivier Awards nominees were decided by the membership of the Society of London Theatres as a whole, and the winners were determined by five theater professionals and eight members of the public.

The full list of winners can be found at the Society of London Theatres website.

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Photo: Olivier Awards. Credit: Society of London Theatres

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