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Curtain up on Oliviers

SEQUIN-SPANGLED musical "La Cage aux Folles" led the race for last night's Laurence Olivier Awards, which recognize the best of the London stage.

The feel-good show about a middle-aged gay couple running a nightclub in the south of France had seven nominations including best musical revival. Both its leads, Douglas Hodge and Denis Lawson, are up for best actor.

"La Cage" is the latest in a series of hits from south London's 200-seat Menier Chocolate Factory theater, whose production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George" won five Oliviers in 2007 before transferring to Broadway.

"Piaf," a musical about the life of tragic French chanteuse Edith Piaf, has nominations in five categories, including best actress for Argentinian star Elena Roger.

"Jersey Boys," the story of 1960s music stars the Four Seasons, and Gypsy Kings-inspired musical "Zorro" also have five nominations apiece.

The Olivier Awards honor achievements in London theater, musicals, dance and opera. Actor James Nesbitt was hosting the glitzy ceremony at London's Grosvenor House Hotel.

In the drama categories, nominations are widely spread. United States import "August: Osage County" - Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a dysfunctional Oklahoma family - is nominated in four categories, including best new play, and best actress for Deanna Dunagan.

The results of the awards were expected Beijing time early this morning.


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