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'La Cage' grabs top award

SHOWS about French drag artistes and Scottish soldiers took top honors on Sunday at the Laurence Olivier Awards recognizing the best of the London stage.

The sequin-spangled musical "La Cage Aux Folles" won the prize for best musical revival. Douglas Hodge was named best actor in a musical for his performance as high-stepping transvestite Albin in the show, set in a French Riviera nightclub.

"Black Watch," Gregory Burke's powerfully physical play about a Scottish regiment's experiences in Iraq, took four prizes, including best new play and best director, for John Tiffany. It also won awards for choreography and sound.

The National Theatre of Scotland show has toured the world to acclaim since its debut in a drill hall at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2006, finally arriving in London last year.

The Olivier awards, Britain's equivalent of Broadway's Tonys, honor achievements in London theater, musicals, dance and opera. Winners are chosen by a panel of theater professionals and members of the public.

Derek Jacobi was named best actor in a play for his memorably ingratiating Malvolio in the Donmar Warehouse production of "Twelfth Night," while Patrick Stewart took the supporting actor prize, his third Olivier, as the treacherous Claudius in the Royal Shakespeare Company's "Hamlet."

Stewart, who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," said theater was his first love. "I was away from the United Kingdom for 17 years in Hollywood, having a good time, but increasingly aware that the thing I really wanted to do was passing me by," he said. "When I came back five years ago, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do."


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