Helen Mirren won her first Olivier Award for a play in which she reprises her role as the Queen, but the biggest winner of the annual British theatre honours on Sunday night was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Based on the 2003 book by Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time earned seven Oliviers, including best new play and best actor for star Luke Treadaway. The play is a murder-mystery involving a dead dog, as perceived by a 15-year-old autistic math genius, played by Treadaway.
"It is a story about a child with a lot of differences who sees the world in a different way, and people could connect to him, they could see themselves in him at times," Treadaway said of his character.
Marianne Elliott won best director for Curious Incident, which began life on the smallest stage at London's National Theatre and moved up to larger stages as its popularity grew. Nicola Walker, who played the teenager's mother, won best supporting actress and the play also earned awards for its set, sound and lighting design.
"We took risks and we thought we would fail and it is a testament to subsidized theatre that we were allowed to think we might fail," Elliott said.
The play could soon be Broadway-bound.
Mirren as the Queen
Mirren was honoured for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience, which imagines a series of meetings the monarch has had with each sitting British prime minister who has served during her reign. Mirren won an Oscar for her earlier portrayal of the monarch in the 2006 movie The Queen.
It is the first Olivier win for the highly acclaimed actress, after four nominations. Backstage, Mirren joked that it was 87-year-old Elizabeth II who deserved an award, "for the most consistent and committed performance of the 20th century, and probably the 21st century."
The award for best supporting actor went to her The Audience co-star Richard McCabe, who plays Harold Wilson, British prime minister from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.
Oliviers for musicals
The new musical honour went to Top Hat, a tap-dancing homage to Hollywood's Golden Age based on the 1935 Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie. It won a total of three Oliviers in total, also taking home awards for costume design and choreography.
Sweeney Todd was another triple-winner, scoring for best musical revival as well as acting honours for its leads, Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball.
Robert Wilson and Philip Glass' epic Einstein on the Beach, staged at the Barbican Centre as part of the London 2012 Festival, was named best new opera production.
U.S. tenor Bryan Hymel was honoured with an outstanding achievement award for performances at the Royal Opera House in Les Troyens, Robert le diable and Rusalka.
Royal Ballet principal dancer Marianela Nunez also won an outstanding achievement award, while Christopher Wheeldon's Aeternum was named best new dance production.