In all my years of theatre going, reviewing and promoting, I have never felt quite the reaction to the Olivier Awards ceremony as I did last night. The 40th awards ceremony was a heady mixture of wonderful performances from some shows I have had the pleasure of seeing and others that are contenders on my wish list.
The glory of the night for me came in the form of 15 past Best Actress in a Musical winners filing onto the stage at the Royal Opera House for the finale to sing “What I Did for Love” from A Chorus Line. A wonderful mix of stars who each brought something to the emotional number. Among them were super-talented ladies and favourites: Joanna Riding, Katie Brayben, Maria Friedman (pictured), Ruthie Henshall, Janie Dee, Sharon D Clarke and Samantha Spiro. I was particularly overjoyed to see Sara Crowe and Nichola McAuliffe in the line-up, because you don’t necessarily link them with musical theatre, yet both are real triple threats.
As for this year’s award contenders, I had firm favourites who I craved to see succeed, too, and they did! Gypsy dominated the evening with the incomparable Imelda Staunton storming the stage at the beginning of the evening as Mama Rose. Earning a standing ovation so early in the evening, and at an awards ceremony – that has to be some kind of a record! Gypsy claimed four trophies in total, with Staunton taking the coveted Best Actress in a Musical prize, deservedly so. Lara Pulver who played Gypsy Rose Lee also took Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and I feel it would have been a great pity if she hadn’t have been standing up there with her ‘mother’.
Kinky Boots is setting the West End ablaze at the moment and Matt Henry taking the Best Actor in a Musical award came as no surprise, neither did the show itself taking the trophy for Best New Musical. Another predictable but popular winner was Dame Judi Dench, her performance in The Winter’s Tale has been on the tips of theatregoers’ tongues for a long time.
Performances on the night were exceptional. Aside from Staunton’s magnificent opener from Gypsy, there was high energy and high jinks from the casts of Kinky Boots and In The Heights. Plus a show-stopping rendition of Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat from Guys and Dolls and a great scene from Bugsy Malone.
Phantom of the Opera (who personally had my vote) won the Magic Radio Audience Award and after so many years of owning the West End, it was long overdue. A gorgeous except from the phenomenon was shown live on stage at the Piazza in Covent Garden, the stunning performance proving why it has stood the test of time.
Michael Ball was a superb presenter as always, his tongue in cheek humour never goes amiss with me and I won’t forget his appearance in those boots for a while, either!
The glory of the night for me came in the form of 15 past Best Actress in a Musical winners filing onto the stage at the Royal Opera House to sing What I Did for Love from A Chorus Line. A wonderful mix of stars who each brought something to the emotional number. Among them were super-talented ladies and favourites; Joanna Riding, Katie Brayben, Maria Frieman, Ruthie Henshall, Janie Dee, Sharon D Clarke and Sam Spiro. I was particularly over-joyed to see Sara Crowe and Nichola McAuliffe in the line-up, because you don’t necessarily link them with musical theatre, yet both are real triple threats.
This theatre blog is what I do for my love of all things theatre and I thought from my own personal point of view that finishing the evening with a group of exceptional performers singing such a perfect number topped off the perfect evening.
Feature image courtesy of Olivier Awards Website