So, that just happened! Despite some small disappointments in the nominations (nothing too much, just some things felt unnecessarily overlooked), I was rather looking forward to this year’s Oliviers. And I was also rather glad that I wasn’t on site to cover the ceremony this time – partly because of the damp forecast, partly because I was absolutely shattered from a long day – so I was free to watch the tweets roll in and not worry about cheering or scowling at the results. (So no tantrum in front of actors like last time!) In case you missed it, I shared my immediate thoughts for nearly every award – except dance & opera, as I’m not pretending to know things I don’t.
It was almost reminiscent of my first experience of the Oliviers, three years ago. Granted, that time I was there as part of the audience (we were supporting Sunny Afternoon – you may remember) but my reactions to awards I was more invested in seemed quite similar. I began feeling generally happy about what was going on, had a couple of winners that I was a little disappointed about, then came the knockout punches in the last few categories.
I’m slightly disappointed that there was nothing for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (although where they could’ve squeezed a win is another question for another time!), and I hope it doesn’t end up affecting its chances of continuing in the West End for a while longer. Obviously there’s no hard evidence, but it felt to me like this is what did for Half a Sixpence last year. By all accounts it seems to still be doing really well, so fingers crossed that this joyous British musical stands its ground for some time to come. I also would definitely have loved for Hamlet to get something out of the night; as I keep saying, it’s probably the best Hamlet I’ll see for a long time (both the lead performance and the production as a whole) so it does seem a bit unfair for it to leave empty-handed, no matter what it was up against. Whilst I was pleased for Labour of Love, of all the James Graham plays I’ve seen so far it’s Ink that is my absolute favourite, so I would have loved for that to get maybe one more award to go alongside Bertie Carvel’s for Best Supporting Actor.
I was, of course, rooting for The Red Lion and La Bohème (a couple of Trafalgar 2 shows), and I was a bit disappointed about Follies taking Best Musical Revival – I did really enjoy it, but… Even though I found 42nd Street rather old-fashioned, it probably should have won something, or, failing that, the underrated On The Town would have suited me just fine in that category. I’m definitely on the fence about the whole ‘Entertainment & Family’ category (pantos, yuck) and, as well as a Best Video/Projection category, I’d like to split Best Director into plays & musicals. The two things are different beasts, which should be recognised as such – also, stage directors don’t ever seem to get as much credit as screen directors and (to me) they are way more important.
On the celebratory side of things, I was absolutely thrilled that An American in Paris got something out of the evening; I had hoped Christopher Wheeldon would win Best Theatre Choreographer, but my next hope was for Best Set Design as Bob Crowley & 59 Productions combined so beautifully to make something visually stunning. Girl From The North Country also meant a lot to me, from its debut at the Old Vic to its run at the Noël Coward, and the two awards that I was desperate for it to win (putting myself at the risk of another Stemp reaction) were Best Supporting Actress & Best Actress. I’m not ashamed to admit that I shrieked and then wept tears of pure joy when I read first Sheila Atim’s name, followed by that of Shirley Henderson. Tight Connection To My Heart and Like A Rolling Stone make me cry like a baby even thinking about those two extraordinary performances, which I think is testament to the show’s power.
And then there’s Hamilton. 13 nominations, but would have been possible for them to win ‘only’ 10 as they had two in the Best Actor category, and three up for Best Supporting Actor. So for them to take away seven is pretty good going! It might’ve taken one less if I’d had my way (I was erring on the side of Bob Dylan for Outstanding Achievement in Music), but I’m not going to quibble about it here. And you can’t argue that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creation isn’t epic.
I have to admit that as soon as I saw Michael Jibson’s name on the list of nominees I really wanted him to win – partly because King George threatening me through song will stick with me forever, but also because my brain immediately linked him with Dame Judi Dench winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, when she was only in the film for about 10 minutes. Jibson does have a bit more stage time than this (and also appears in the ensemble towards the latter stages, calling himself Ian), but you can see why this connection leapt out at me. And, as much as I would’ve loved for Jamael Westman to take Best Actor so early on in his career, Giles Terera is an incredible performer and he damn near steals the show as Aaron Burr (sir).
On the whole, I’d say it all went rather well. A bit more interesting than last year, in that there wasn’t one show that seemed to steamroll its competition; yes, Hamilton took seven, but The Ferryman got three, and several others won a pair. The panellists this time round definitely didn’t just pick on the basis of reputation alone, and did a good job of not making too many people feel left out – both in who they nominated and who ended up winning.
What do you think? Did your favourites come away with any awards? Or was it not quite their turn this time? I’d love to hear your thoughts! In case you need a recap of all the winners, they’re scrolling through this neat little slideshow below…