The 37th Laurence Olivier Awards, held at London’s Royal Opera House on April 28, spread the wealth among a limited number of shows, with seven prizes for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and three each for Top Hat and Sweeney Todd. (For every multiple recipient, more than a few big-name productions went away empty-handed, including The Bodyguard, Hattie Morahan in A Doll’s House, and the Kristin Scott Thomas-led Old Times.) Below, five highlights from the gala ceremony:
Come On, Marianne!
A Tony winner for co-directing War Horse, Marianne Elliott saw her production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time take home seven awards (including best new play), tying last year’s Matilda for the most Oliviers ever. Leading man Luke Treadaway was presented his best actor award by Kim Cattrall, who is in London rehearsing Elliott’s next venture, an Old Vic revival of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth co-starring Seth Numrich. Next stop for Simon Stephens’ sold-out adaptation of Mark Haddon’s Curious novel? Broadway, of course.
Was this a flash of the Tonys we saw before us? You could be forgiven for thinking as much during a ceremony that showcased Matthew Morrison, Idina Menzel and musical actress nominee Heather Headley (The Bodyguard), who got a standing ovation from a notably tough crowd for her rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” Headley, who had gone on record prior to the Oliviers commending fellow nominee Imelda Staunton, deserved a prize for the most gracious also-ran, leading the applause when Sweeney Todd's Mrs. Lovett did, in fact, win. Meanwhile, Menzel sang twice, first in tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, and later in a Funny Girl diva routine.
Matilda’s Man Minchin
Matilda’s protean composer-lyricist Tim Minchin has toured as Judas in an arena staging of Jesus Christ Superstar but it was something else again to find the shaggy-haired Australian accompanying himself at the piano in a rendition of “My House,” one of the softest and loveliest numbers from his Matilda score. Some have downplayed Minchin’s contribution to the musical that swept last year’s Oliviers. Nonsense: His score is a beauty, and Minchin is its ideal interpreter.
One Classy Dame
Dame Helen Mirren is no stranger to accepting kudos for playing Elizabeth II, having bagged every possible award for Stephen Frears’ 2006 film The Queen. There she was again at the Oliviers, this time scooping the competitive leading actress in a play prize for Peter Morgan’s The Audience. Mirren commended HRH on giving “the most consistent and committed performance” of the 20th century and into the 21st. The actress even found time to thank the two corgis with whom she shares the stage at various moments.
You could almost hear people doing the math when director/choregrapher Gillian Lynne, recipient of the second of the night’s two special awards (Tony-winning playwright Michael Frayn was up first), told the Opera House crowd that she took her first bow on that same stage 67 years ago. How is that possible? Well, the woman who choreographed Cats and The Phantom of the Opera and returned to London this year to direct Betty Buckley in Dear World is 87 and shows no signs of slowing down. As Lynne remarked of her career, “It’s likely to continue, I hasten to add.” And so it should.