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Olivier Award nominees: first analysis and full list of categories

By
Andrzej Lukowski
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The nominees for the 2017 Olivier Awards were announced this afternoon. Here are some first thoughts on choices that were a mixture of just, obvious ('Harry Potter', 'Groundhog Day') and unfair (a lot of off-West End talent has been overlooked).

'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' is clearly going to win big

With 11 nods, JK Rowling’s two-part epic stage play is the most nominated play (ie not a musical) in the awards’ history. It’s not hard to see why: it’s a box-office colossus, it's a technical triumph and it boasts an outstanding cast. There are a couple of tough categories, but all 11 seem winnable and it will surely be the show that dominates the night, and quite probably set a record for the most Oliviers won by a single show.

‘Groundhog Day’ will probably win biggish

You’d think Tim Minchin’s wildly acclaimed follow-up to his seven-Olivier-winning ‘Matilda’ would be a shoo-in for success. The only question mark is whether the fact it only had a limited run at the Old Vic prior to its imminent Broadway opening will count against it next to musicals that are still running. Still, it has eight nominations and will probably convert a bunch of them into gongs.

The Best New Play category is incredibly random

There’s an argument that Jack Thorne’s text for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ is not really a standalone piece of writing, but it seems fair enough that it gets nominated. Annie Baker’s ‘The Flick’ at the National Theatre makes sense – it’s probably the most critically acclaimed play of 2016. But putting two decent shows from the Donmar Warehouse (‘Elegy’ and ‘One Night in Miami’) in there feels weird, especially in light of there being no nominations at all for new writing powerhouse the Royal Court or the Almeida (‘Boy’ and ‘Oil’). 

It’s a fairly bad year for non-West End theatres

Since changes made a few years back to the Olivier nominations process gave much more weight to the opinions of West End producers, there has been a decline in the number of off-West End productions nominated. The National Theatre has a decent haul, with eight nominations spread over various categories; the Young Vic has done well thanks to its Billie Piper-starring ‘Yerma’. Beyond that, little else gets a look-in: nothing for the Royal Court or Almeida, neither of which transferred anything to the West End last year. Even for the Donmar, those two Best New Play nods are its only nominations. It feels like a lot of very good work is getting overlooked. 

The list could be more diverse

There’s a smattering of black talent nominated and a couple of big wins would make all the difference. But the bulk of nominations has gone to a lot of very, very white shows, with Noma Dumezweni’s Best Supporting Actor nod the only one for a POC in the two frontrunner shows, while it’s left to musical ‘Dreamgirls’ to provide much of the remaining diversity in this year’s awards. 

 

The Olivier Awards ceremony takes place at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday April 9.

Here's the full list of nominees:

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Ian Bartholomew for ‘Half a Sixpence’ at Noël Coward Theatre

Adam J Bernard for ‘Dreamgirls’ at Savoy Theatre

Ben Hunter for ‘The Girls’ at Phoenix Theatre

Andrew Langtree for ‘Groundhog Day’ at The Old Vic

 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Haydn Gwynne for ‘The Threepenny Opera’ at National Theatre, Olivier

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt for ‘Murder Ballad’ at Arts Theatre

Rebecca Trehearn for ‘Show Boat’ at New London Theatre

Emma Williams for ‘Half a Sixpence’ at Noël Coward Theatre

 

Outstanding Achievement in Music

‘Dreamgirls’ at Savoy Theatre - music by Henry Krieger

‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre - composer and arranger Imogen Heap

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre - the band and company creating the gig-like vibe of the original ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ concept album

‘School of Rock: The Musical’ at New London Theatre - three children's bands who play instruments live every night

 

Best New Dance Production

‘Betroffenheit’ by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young at Sadler’s Wells

‘Blak Whyte Gray’ by Boy Blue Entertainment at Barbican Theatre

‘Giselle’ by Akram Khan and English National Ballet at Sadler’s Wells

‘My Mother, My Dog and Clowns’ by Michael Clark at Barbican Theatre

 

Outstanding Achievement in Dance

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for their London season at Sadler’s Wells

Luke Ahmet for ‘The Creation’ by Rambert at Sadler’s Wells

English National Ballet for expanding the variety of their repertoire with ‘Giselle’ and ‘She Said’ at Sadler’s Wells

  

Best Entertainment and Family

‘Cinderella’ at London Palladium

‘David Baddiel – My Family: Not the Sitcom’ at Vaudeville Theatre

‘Peter Pan’ at National Theatre, Olivier

‘The Red Shoes’ at Sadler’s Wells

 

Best Theatre Choreographer

Matthew Bourne for ‘The Red Shoes’ at Sadler’s Wells

Peter Darling and Ellen Kane for ‘Groundhog Day’ at The Old Vic

Steven Hoggett for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

Drew McOnie for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

 

Magic Radio Best Musical Revival

‘Funny Girl’ at Savoy Theatre

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

‘Show Boat’ at New London Theatre

‘Sunset Boulevard’ at London Coliseum

 

Best Actor in a Musical

David Fynn for ‘School of Rock: The Musical’ at New London Theatre

Tyrone Huntley for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Andy Karl for ‘Groundhog Day’ at The Old Vic

Charlie Stemp for ‘Half a Sixpence’ at Noël Coward Theatre

 

Best Actress in a Musical

Glenn Close for ‘Sunset Boulevard’ at London Coliseum

Debbie Chazen, Sophie-Louise Dann, Michele Dotrice, Claire Machin, Claire Moore and Joanna Riding for ‘The Girls’ at Phoenix Theatre

Amber Riley for ‘Dreamgirls’ at Savoy Theatre

Sheridan Smith for ‘Funny Girl’ at Savoy Theatre

 

Best Revival

‘The Glass Menagerie’ at Duke of York’s Theatre

‘This House’ at Garrick Theatre

‘Travesties’ at Apollo Theatre

‘Yerma’ at Young Vic

 

Best New Comedy

‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ at Criterion Theatre

‘Nice Fish’ at Harold Pinter Theatre

‘Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour’ at National Theatre, Dorfman

‘The Truth’ at Wyndham’s Theatre

  

Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre

‘Cuttin’ It’ at The Maria, Young Vic

‘The Government Inspector’ at Theatre Royal Stratford East

‘The Invisible Hand’ at Tricycle Theatre

‘It Is Easy to Be Dead’ at Trafalgar Studios 2

‘Rotterdam’ at Trafalgar Studios 2

 

White Light Award for Best Lighting Design

Neil Austin for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

Lee Curran for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Natasha Katz for ‘The Glass Menagerie’ at Duke of York’s Theatre

Hugh Vanstone for ‘Groundhog Day’ at The Old Vic

  

Best Sound Design 

Paul Arditti for ‘Amadeus’ at National Theatre, Olivier

Adam Cork for ‘Travesties’ at Apollo Theatre

Gareth Fry for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

Nick Lidster for Autograph for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

 

Best Costume Design

Gregg Barnes for ‘Dreamgirls’ at Savoy Theatre

Hugh Durrant for ‘Cinderella’ at London Palladium 

Rob Howell for ‘Groundhog Day’ at The Old Vic

Katrina Lindsay for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

 

Blue-i Theatre Technology Award for Best Set Design

Bob Crowley for Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ at Prince Edward Theatre

Bob Crowley for ‘The Glass Menagerie’ at Duke of York’s Theatre

Rob Howell for ‘Groundhog Day’ at The Old Vic

Christine Jones for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

  

Best Actor in a Supporting Role 

Anthony Boyle for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

Freddie Fox for ‘Travesties’ at Apollo Theatre

Brian J Smith for ‘The Glass Menagerie’ at Duke of York’s Theatre

Rafe Spall for ‘Hedda Gabler’ at National Theatre, Lyttelton

 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Melissa Allan, Caroline Deyga, Kirsty Findlay, Karen Fishwick, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann, Joanne McGuinness and Dawn Sievewright for ‘Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour‘ at National Theatre, Dorfman

Noma Dumezweni for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

Clare Foster for ‘Travesties’ at Apollo Theatre

Kate O’Flynn for ‘The Glass Menagerie’ at Duke of York’s Theatre

 

Best New Opera Production

‘4.48 Psychosis’ at Lyric Hammersmith

‘Akhnaten’ at London Coliseum

‘Così Fan Tutte’ at Royal Opera House 

‘Lulu’ at London Coliseum

 

Outstanding Achievement in Opera

Renée Fleming for her performance in ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ at Royal Opera House

Stuart Skelton for his performance in ‘Tristan and Isolde’ at London Coliseum

Mark Wigglesworth for his conducting of ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘Lulu’ at London Coliseum 

 

Best Actor

Ed Harris for ‘Buried Child’ at Trafalgar Studios 1

Tom Hollander for ‘Travesties’ at Apollo Theatre

Ian McKellen for ‘No Man’s Land’ at Wyndham’s Theatre

Jamie Parker for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

 

Best Actress

Glenda Jackson for ‘King Lear’ at The Old Vic

Cherry Jones for ‘The Glass Menagerie’ at Duke of York’s Theatre 

Billie Piper for ‘Yerma’ at Young Vic 

Ruth Wilson for ‘Hedda Gabler’ at National Theatre, Lyttelton

 

Best Director

Simon Stone for ‘Yerma’ at Young Vic

John Tiffany for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

John Tiffany for ‘The Glass Menagerie’ at Duke of York’s Theatre

Matthew Warchus for ‘Groundhog Day’ at The Old Vic 

 

Virgin Atlantic Best New Play

‘Elegy’ at Donmar Warehouse

‘The Flick’ at National Theatre, Dorfman

‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at Palace Theatre

‘One Night in Miami’ at Donmar Warehouse

 

Mastercard Best New Musical

‘Dreamgirls’ at Savoy Theatre

‘The Girls’ at Phoenix Theatre

‘Groundhog Day’ at The Old Vic

‘School of Rock: The Musical’ at New London Theatre

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