Oscar winner Mark Rylance and Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch both lost out last night as Kenneth Cranham took home the Olivier Award for best actor.
The 71-year-old Scottish actor was tearful as he thanked fellow cast members of The Father, as well as the play’s director James Macdonald.
“He’s a wonderful director, very kind, he’s very perceptive, he lets you find your performance and he directs further on down the line”, Cranham, from Dunfermline, said.
Denise Gough used her best actress win for People, Places And Things to register her concern that all the nominations in her category at the UK theatre awards were white.
After accepting the award from James Norton, she said: “Okay I’ve got 40 seconds so I’ve got to be quick. This is for my people, you all know who you are.”
She then said she she was “just a bit disappointed” that, in a year marked by widespread uproar about the lack of diversity at awards shows, she was “sad” about the lack of diversity among the nominees in her own category.
She added: “I’m taking Noma Dumezweni and Marianne Jean-Baptiste with me.”
Dame Judi Dench was named best actress in a supporting role for The Winter’s Tale at the ceremony in London’s Royal Opera House.
The veteran actress was presented with her award by Luke Treadaway, star of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
Miss Dench praised “a really fantastic company and crew and stage management”, saying of the award: “It’s lovely to have, but in actual fact it belongs to all those people just as much as it belongs to me.”
Sherlock creator Mark Gatiss joined the prestigious winners’ list as he was named best actor in a supporting role for Three Days In The Country.
Gatiss said: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed, I can’t tell you what this means to me. It was an amazing performance and a gift of a part. I’m thrilled to bits, thank you very much.”
Comedian and TV personality Eddie Izzard took to the stage to present the award for best new comedy to playwright Jessica Swale for Nell Gwynn.
Izzard joked about his latest charity challenge, which saw him completing a staggering 27 marathons in 27 days while raising more than £1.35 million for Sport Relief following his gruelling challenge across South Africa.
He joked: “A lot of it was green screen – actually it was all real, they cut out a lot of the swearing. If you do something like that it sounds glib, but it gets easier after ten marathons, your brain gets used to it.”
The Magic Radio audience award was won by The Phantom Of The Opera.
The award for best revival was presented by Downton Abbey star Jim Carter and Julia McKenzie to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Sir Lenny Henry presented the best entertainment and family award to Showstopper! The Improvised Musical.
The evening’s host, Michael Ball, delighted the audience as he took to the stage in a pair of red, patent leather high heel boots.
He joked: “Why wasn’t I cast in Kinky Boots, Nell Gwynn or Gypsy? Tonight I think I’ve got to prove I’ve been overlooked.”