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Olivier Awards 2013: Many Shows Called, Few Chosen | reviews, news & interviews

Olivier Awards 2013: Many Shows Called, Few Chosen

Olivier Awards 2013: Many Shows Called, Few Chosen

Multiple trophies for a handful of shows meant many productions left the 2013 Oliviers empty-handed

What, yet another award? Olivier winner Luke Treadaway as Christopher Boone

The Oliviers consider more than twice the number of productions for their annual awards compared to Broadway's Tonys. But you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise following Sunday night's 37th annual shindig, which divvied up the kudos among notably few recipients, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time leading the pack with seven awards - on a par with Matilda this time last year. At the same time, many other worthy hopefuls went home empty-handed, if they were lucky enough to get nominated to begin with. 

sweeney todd at 2013 oliviersOne intends no disrespect to Simon Stephens's adaptation of Mark Haddon's novel, as served up by Marianne Elliott in a National Theatre staging starring Luke Treadaway, to wonder whether the wealth might have been more equally shared in a year that saw no nominations whatsoever for (to name just two) Caryl Churchill's Love and Information and the National Theatre/Simon Russell Beale Timon of Athens, and where Lucy Prebble's The Effect was in contention except where it might have mattered most, Best Play.

And while it might have been nice to look away from the West End - giving the actress prize, for instance, to Hattie Morahan's giddily exciting Young Vic Nora (pictured below, with Dominic Rowan) - the evening was all about honouring the commercial mainstream. Sure, Curious Incident began in the state-funded corridors of the National before transferring for its ongoing Shaftesbury Avenue run, but it's worth noting that very few other National shows were even nominated (and no single other one won). This year's Oliviers gave themselves over to the big time: how else to explain the final number, which brought to the Royal Opera House stage a snippet from, of all things, Cats?  

Hattie Morahan and Dominic RowanStill, what's done is done, which is to say that the Olivier voters (upped this year in number to 160 or thereabouts so as to include not just the panel but the industry at large) shared the love among a surprisingly small array of titles. The musical categories were dominated by Sweeney Todd (pictured above with its two prize-winning leads, Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball) and Top Hat, with three awards apiece, including the top musical prizes, while Peter Morgan's Broadway-bound The Audience garnered a pair of trophies that will serve it well come its eventual run Stateside. Those were for Helen Mirren's latest take on Elizabeth II, this time for the stage and not the screen, and for Richard McCabe's sweetly fretful Harold Wilson, one of the British leaders about whom American audiences at The Audience might draw a blank were it not for McCabe's richly empathic performance - one of the most merited awards of the night. 

Even in a year of sweeps (like last year, when the musical Once took eight trophies), the Tonys manage to share the Broadway wealth. That was generally not the case at the Oliviers, with Long Day's Journey Into Night and A Chorus Line the only shows to come away with a single prize each amidst multiple wins elsewhere: the O'Neill play took best revival (though shamefully wasn't recognised for its American leading lady, Laurie Metcalf), while the Marvin Hamlisch-scored musical revival at the Palladium was acknowledged for Leigh Zimmerman's biting turn as the tart-tongued Sheila - the plum role in the show (Zimmerman pictured below). 

Hamlisch's death last year prompted a sung tribute from the stage courtesy of a Broadway visitor, Idina Menzel, the Wicked alumna one of a trifecta of Broadway performers who further amplified one's gathering sense of this year's gong-fest as a British attempt to keep up with the Tonys. (And why not: Bafta has been doing the same for years vis-a-vis the Oscars.)

Leigh ZimmermanMatthew Morrison, late of Hairspray and The Light in the Piazza on the New York stage but better known for TV's Glee, showed up to sing a puzzling medley from West Side Story, while non-winner, The Bodyguard, was represented by its American leading lady, Heather Headley, who brought a tough audience to its feet - even if I defy anyone who didn't already know the lyrics to her Whitney Houston standard to even begin to fathom them from this rendition.

Much the sweetest moment was provided by Matilda composer Tim Minchin, who took to the piano to offer up the lovely and plaintive song from the show, "My House", returning later in a long evening to remark that it was high time everyone in attendance had some alcohol. At which point you could hear a capacity black-tie crowd murmur as one, "We'll drink to that."

Go to the next page for the full list of winners


Best Revival
Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Apollo theatre)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Richard McCabe for The Audience (Gielgud theatre)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nicola Walker for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (National Theatre, Cottesloe)

White Light Award for Lighting Design
Paule Constable for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (National Theatre, Cottesloe)

Best Sound Design
Ian Dickinson and Adrian Sutton for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (National Theatre, Cottesloe)

Best Costume Design
Jon Morrell for Top Hat (Aldwych Theatre)

XL Video Award for Best Set Design
Bunny Christie and Finn Ross for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (National Theatre, Cottesloe)

Best Entertainment and Family
Goodnight Mister Tom (Phoenix Theatre)

BBC Radio 2 Audience Award
Billy Elliot The Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre)

Best New Dance Production
Aeternum, by the Royal Ballet, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon (Royal Opera House)

Outstanding Achievement in Dance
Marianela Núñez for Aeternum, Diana & Actaeon and Viscera, by the Royal Ballet (Royal Opera House)

Best Actor
Luke Treadaway for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (National Theatre, Cottesloe)

Best Actress
Helen Mirren for The Audience (Gielgud Theatre)

Best Director
Marianne Elliott for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (National Theatre, Cottesloe)

Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre
The season of new writing at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court

Best New Opera Production
Einstein On The Beach by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass with choreography by Lucinda Childs (Barbican Theatre)

Outstanding Achievement in Opera
Bryan Hymel for his performance in Les Troyens, Robert Le Diable and Rusalka (Royal Opera House)

Autograph Sound Award for Best Theatre Choreographer
Bill Deamer for Top Hat (Aldwych Theatre)

Best Musical Revival
Sweeney Todd (Adelphi theatre)

Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical
Leigh Zimmerman for A Chorus Line (London Palladium)

Best Actor in a Musical
Michael Ball for Sweeney Todd (Adelphi Theatre)

Best Actress in a Musical
Imelda Staunton for Sweeney Todd (Adelphi Theatre)

Best New Musical
Top Hat (Aldwych Theatre)

MasterCard Best New Play
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (National Theatre, Cottesloe)

Special Awards
Michael Frayn
Gillian Lynne

Watch a video of Mark Haddon reading from A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for World Book Night

The evening was all about the honouring the commercial mainstream

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Don't forget the opera awards. Not that dressing up Emperor Glass's new clothes for Einstein on the Beach quite hit the mark for me. And tenor winner Bryan Hymel sang (very well) in the Royal Opera's three worst/dullest productions yet (Rusalka, Les Troyens and Robert le Diable).

I'm not sure why your reviewer finds the inclusion of an extract from Cats inexplicable - this was clearly because of the special award given to its choreographer, Gillian Lynne.

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