Judi Dench, Jude Law up for UK's Olivier Awards

Britain's actress Dame Judy Dench, centre left, attends a State Banquet in honour of the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, at Windsor Castle Tuesday April 8, 2014, in Windsor, England. Guests and dignitaries including Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are attending the banquet at the end of the first day of a state visit by Ireland's Michael D. Higgins. Ireland's Michael D. Higgins is making the first state visit by a president of the republic since it gained independence from Britain. (AP Photo / Dan Kitwood)

LONDON (AP) — An acclaimed revival of Henrik Ibsen's grueling "Ghosts" was an early winner at London's Olivier stage awards Sunday, taking prizes for best revival and best supporting actor.

Director Richard Eyre adapted the play, stripping Ibsen's 19th-century script down to a lean, audience-draining 90 minutes.

"Suicide, euthanasia, feminism, syphilis, morality — you name it, it's in the play," Eyre said, proclaiming Ibsen a "genius."

Jack Lowden was named best supporting actor for the production, first staged at the small Almeida Theatre in north London.

The actor was delighted to win for his performance as the syphilitic son of a troubled family in the intense Norwegian tragedy.

"Any chance you get to play an arrogant, rash ... drunk, take it," he advised his fellow actors.

Screen stars Jude Law, Tom Hiddleston and Judi Dench were among the big-name nominees for the awards, which honor achievements in London theater, musicals, dance and opera.

Two members of Swedish supergroup ABBA are set to perform during Sunday's ceremony at London's Royal Opera House, celebrating the 15-year West End run of "Mamma Mia."

New musical "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and Stephen Sondheim revival "Merrily We Roll Along" lead the nominations, with seven apiece. Musicals "Once," ''The Book of Mormon" and "The Scottsboro Boys" — all of which originated on Broadway — are nominated in six categories each.

Law and Hiddleston are both best-actor nominees for Shakespeare roles, in "Henry V" and "Coriolanus," respectively. They are nominated alongside Henry Goodman for "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" and Rory Kinnear for "Othello."

Dench is a best-actress contender for her performance as the real-life inspiration for "Alice in Wonderland" in "Peter and Alice." The other nominees are Anna Chancellor for "Private Lives," Lesley Manville for "Ghosts" and Hayley Atwell for "The Pride."

Winners in most categories are chosen by a panel of stage professionals and theatergoers. The Audience Award, decided by public vote, is a contest among fan favorites "Matilda The Musical," ''Les Miserables," ''The Phantom of the Opera" and "Wicked."

Founded in 1976, the Oliviers have been laying on the glitz in recent years, with glossy ceremonies modeled on Broadway's Tony Awards. This year's hosts are actors Gemma Arterton and Stephen Mangan, and performers include tenor Joseph Calleja, Broadway legend Bernadette Peters and ABBA's Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus.


Online: www.olivierawards.com