The nominations for the long-awaited 2022 Laurence Olivier Awards – the biggest and most prestigious theatre awards in the UK – are finally in, the first edition of the Oliviers since 2020 and the first since 2019 that’ll actually take place with the full in-person ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall.
Not unexpectedly, the West End’s superdeluxe revival of Kander & Ebb’s ‘Cabaret’ leads the nominations, being up for a full 11 gongs, which is probably something you could have predicted even before seeing it, given the colossal names involved (notably stars Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley) and the fact that it involved a highly ambitious overhaul of the Playhouse Theatre (designer Tom Scutt and most of his technical team are up for something, as is director Rebecca Frecknall).
There’s also a haul of nine nominations for the Barbican’s superlative summer production of ‘Anything Goes’, and perhaps surprisingly an equal number for current West End smash ‘Life of Pi’ – some innovative ways have been found to nominate the puppet-based production, including a best supporting actor nod for the seven performers playing the tiger, Richard Parker, and a best choreographer nomination for puppet director Finn Caldwell (both thoroughly deserved).
Elsewhere and ‘Back to the Future’ did the best of the rest of the many musicals that opened last year with seven nominations; ‘Moulin Rouge!’ got five, ‘Frozen’ four, ‘Get Up, Stand Up!’ three, ‘The Drifters Girl’ two, while Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much-hyped, generally well-reviewed ‘Cinderella’ only managed one: Victoria Hamilton-Barritt for best supporting actress, meaning it didn’t even get a best musical nod – a major snub.
The Oliviers are always a bit weirder when it comes to plays: aside from ‘Life of Pi’, the National Theatre’s ‘The Normal Heart’ bagged five nominations, but nothing else from our flagship theatre – it’s not a production generally seen as the sole standout of the season. The quadruple cast revival of Nick Payne’s ‘Constellations’ got four nominations including best revival and best director (for Michael Longhurst), which seems maybe slightly questionable when it’s just a recast version of the production nominated for four Oliviers back in 2013. As ever, smaller theatres are poorly represented, and there are some slightly bizarre choices in the best actor and actress awards: nothing for Saoirse Ronan or James McArdle for the Almeida’s ‘Macbeth’, but a best actress nominee for Lily Allen’s very competent but not exactly earth-shattering turn in ‘2:22: A Ghost Story’.
To be honest, it seems like it has the potential to be a mildly more contentious year than usual, which is perhaps all part of the fun of awards ceremonies. Whatever the case, it’s good to have the Oliviers back.
The 2022 Laurence Olivier Awards are at the Royal Albert Hall, April 10, and broadcast on TV and radio by ITV and Magic FM.