Matilda the Musical swept the boards at the Olivier Awards, with its "four little miracles" in the title role sharing the limelight and the gongs.
The girls, Cleo Demetriou, Kerry Ingram, Sophia Kiely and Eleanor Worthington-Cox, were named joint winners of the Best Actress in a Musical award.
One of the girls - 10-year-old Eleanor made history by becoming the youngest ever winner of an Olivier.
She described her win as "pretty cool" and said her last prize was a "little silver plastic medal" for athletics at school.
Kerry said she was "mind-blown" by the success, and Cleo said winning the award was "a million times bigger" than the audience reaction at the end of each show.
The show, based on the Roald Dahl book, won seven awards including Best New Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Bertie Carvel.
Carvel paid tribute to his young co-stars, saying: "There is something beautifully unfinished about them and full of life".
He added: "I'm proud of my part in it, but frankly I'm proud of every inch of it. It's really witty, inventive - it's the kind of theatre I want to go and see, which is the kind of theatre I want to be in".
Last night's ceremony switched to New York via a live link when Best Director winner Matthew Warchus picked up his award from James Earl Jones for his work on Matilda.
He paid tribute to his young leading ladies, saying: "People often say to me: 'Matthew, which is your favourite Matilda?' and as you saw earlier it's a ridiculous question, there are four little miracles there".
Earlier in the night, stars including Ronan Keating, Sir Tim Rice and Dan Stevens met fans and posed for photographs on the red carpet.
The bash - the biggest night in theatreland - also attracted names including Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh and Kara Tointon to the ceremony at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, central London.
WINNERS IN FULL:
- Mastercard Best New Play - Collaborators at the Cottesloe
- Best Revival - Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse
- Best Actress - Ruth Wilson for Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse
- Best Actor - Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller for Frankenstein at the Olivier
- Best Performance in a Supporting Role - Sheridan Smith for Flare Path at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket
- Best Actress in a Musical - Cleo Demetriou, Kerry Ingram, Sophia Kiely and Eleanor Worthington-Cox for the Matildas in Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge
- Best Actor in a Musical - Bertie Carvel for Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge
- Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical - Nigel Harman for Shrek The Musical at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
- Best New Musical - Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge
- Best Musical Revival - Crazy For You at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
- Best Director - Matthew Warchus for Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge
- BBC Radio 2 Olivier Audience Award - Les Miserables at the Queen's
The event, properly known as the 2012 Olivier awards with Mastercard, was hosted by Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton and shown on a big screen in Covent Garden, London.
It kicked off with a performance of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody from the cast of the musical We Will Rock You featuring the band's guitarist Brian May.
The first big winner was Sheridan Smith, who was recognised for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for her performance in Flare Path.
Her award was picked up for her by Sir Trevor Nunn, who read a message from the actress who is filming in Australia.
In her message, she said: "This is one of the most special jobs I have ever done and I feel honoured to be have been part of such a brilliant revival".
She also paid tribute to her parents, who were in the audience, and the members of RAF Bomber Command whose lives inspired the Terence Rattigan play.
Also getting gongs were Luther-star Ruth Wilson, who was named Best Actress, and Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch, who shared the Best Actor gong for their role in Frankenstein.
Accepting the award for both of them, Lee Miller paid tribute to the National Theatre which staged the show.
He said: "It's an amazing place and I can't say enough about it, thank you to Nicholas Hytner and the entire staff of the National. It's a magical place and I can't wait to get back".
Speaking backstage, he hinted that the show, directed by Danny Boyle, could reappear at another venue - saying "there is talk, some talk", but added it would "seem like a huge mountain to climb" to stage it anywhere but the National.
Long-running musical Les Miserables won the Radio 2 Olivier Audience Award voted for by the general public.
Sir Tim Rice was given an Olivier Special award and the National Theatre's Collaborators was awarded MasterCard Best New Play Award.
The stars came out in force for theatre land's equivalent of the Oscars:
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