When will the Olivier Awards get the recognition they deserve I ask myself.
Whilst it was nice to finally see some effort to make the award show into a proper event not only for the invited audience (and those that were willing to pay 90 quid for a ticket in the highest level of the Opera House) but also for the regular theatrefans it was clear that the show is still an outsider in the media world.
Broadcasted on BBC’s Red Button and through an online stream on the Olivier Awards website theatrefans around the world were able to watch the event live. But the quality of the coverage left a lot to be desired. From poor sound quality to a complete blackout of the stream this was a truly mixed experience.
The free event in Covent Garden was a wonderful addition to the awards and will hopefully become a regular happening. Performances from the nominees of the “BBC Radio 2 Olivier Audience Award” category kept the gathered public entertained. It’s always nice to see theatre being promoted and this certainly was a great opportunity for the involved shows. Sadly the coverage didn’t do all shows a favour. The sound quality during the performance of the Jersey Boys was simply dreadful (at least on the live stream – apparently it was ok for the people watching live in Covent Garden). If I wasn’t a fan of the show and knew that the whole cast is nothing but amazing I would definitely have been put off by that performance. It was truly painful to listen to. On the other side Les Miserables performing “One day more” was probably the highlight of the whole evening.
As for the awards itself: Solid and without real surprises. Hosted by Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton the show had a good flow and while some of the longer acceptance speeched dragged on a bit I liked the general mix of live performances and handing out the awards in the different categories.
As expected Matilda was the big winner of the night with 7 awards including a well deserved “Best Actor In A Musical” award for the wonderful Bertie Carvel, a joined “Best Actress In A Musical” win for the three Matildas and the “Best New Musical” award.
Personally I was more than glad to see Nigel Harman win “Best Supporting Actor In A Musical” – you can think what you like of Shrek the musical but Nigel Harman’s performance in this show has been outstanding. And if there was an award for “Outstanding Physical Achievment In A Musical” he would deserve that one as well for spending a whole show down on his knees.
It was nice to see Ruth Wilson being recognised for her fantastic performance in “Anna Christie” at the Donmar Warehouse with the “Best Actress” award. The play itself beat the popular “Noises off”, “Flare Path” and “Much ado about nothing” and won the “Best Revival” award.
Another joined win went to Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller for their highly acclaimed performance of Dr. Frankenstein and the Creature (alternating both parts) in “Frankenstein” at the Olivier Theatre.
Sheridan Smith secured her second Olivier Award in a row this time for “Best Performance In A Supporting Role” for “Flare Path”.
I was happy to see “Crazy for you” winning the award for “Best Musical Revival” although to be honest I would have been ok with any show but “Wizard of Oz” winning in this category.
Live performances throughout the evening included a fantastic ensemble number from “Shrek the musical”. It was great to see the ensemble in the spotlight – I really think those guys and girls are such a vital part in this show and often don’t get recognised properly. However it would have been nice to see the leads there as well especially with both Nigel Harman and Nigel Lindsay being nominated.
Having said that the appearance from Kimberley Walsh together with Ronan Keating singing a rather mediocore duet left a lot of theatrefans with a question mark above their heads. The purpose of Ronan Keating being at the awards at all remained a complete secret to me. And not only did he sing the mentioned duet with Ms. Walsh, no he also had a solo song and got to present an award. Call me mean but the first thing that came to my mind was “The Oliviers – sponsored by Ronan Keating?”.
If the people in charge wanted “names” on stage why not at least get performers with a theatre background? I’ll start dreaming for a minute and imagine a stunning rendition of “Bring him home” by Hugh Jackman.
Thankfully great performances from “Singing in the rain”, “South Pacific”, “The Lion King”, “Ghost” and “We will rock you” made up for Mr. Keating’s forgettable appearence on stage.
All in all this was an awards show of highs and lows, the highs undoubtedly being provided by the hugely talented West End performers who appeared on stage on the night. They showed that the West End deserves to be loved and celebrated – maybe next year even with a proper TV coverage instead of “just” a live stream and without not needed appearances by so-called celebrities that have no connection at all to theatre and the West End?
Complete list of winners
Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse
MasterCard Best New Play
Collaborators at the Cotteloe Theatre
Best Performance In A Supporting Role
Sheridan Smith for Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Best Costume Design
Crazy For You designed by Peter McKintosh at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Best Set Design
Matilda The Musical designed by Rob Howell at the Cambridge Theatre
Benedict Cumberbatch & Jonny Lee Miller for Frankenstein at the Olivier Theatre
Best Lighting Design
Frankenstein designed by Bruno Poet at the Olivier Theatre
Best Sound Design
Matilda The Musical designed by Simon Baker at the Cambridge Theatre
Outstanding Achievment In An Affiliate Theatre
Theatre Royal Stratford East for Roadkill
Best New Dance Production
Desh by Akram Khan Company at Sadler’s Wells
Outstanding Achievment In Dance
Edward Watson for his performance in The Metamorphosis at the Linbury Studio
Matthew Warchus for Matilda The Musical
Ruth Wilson for Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse
BBC Radio 2 Olivier Audience Award
Best Entertainment And Family
Derren Brown: Svengali at the Shaftesbury theatre
Best New Opera Production
English National Opera’s Castor And Pollux at the London Coliseum
Outstanding Achievment In Opera
ENO for the breadth and diversity of its artistic programme
Best Theatre Choreographer
Peter Darling for Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre
Best Performance In A Supporting Role In A Musical
Nigel Harman for Shrek The Musical at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Best Musical Revival
Crazy For You at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Best Actor In A Musical
Bertie Carvel for Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre
Best Actress In A Musical
The Matildas for Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre
Best New Musical
Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre
Visit http://www.olivierawards.com for more info on the awards and pictures of the evening.