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Olivier Awards

Olivier Awards 2017: An inspirational night in theatre

We recap our highlights from this year’s star-studded Olivier Awards.

The Olivier Awards have long been established as the pinnacle of celebratory theatre events. Having first taken on the name back in 1984, following a stint as the Society Of West End Theatre Awards, 2017 marks a giant leap into the mainstream. Hosted by Jason Manford at the stunning Royal Albert Hall, the ceremony will be broadcast across prime-time television for the very first time.

The Awards celebrate the best and brightest from the West End, with a particular focus on the new. Its glitz and glamour, on par with major screen awards, attract the biggest stars from the world of theatre, adorning the event’s high-profile red carpet. The weekend’s glorious sunshine also adds that extra sparkle to proceedings.

Guided by Manford, who other than an early tongue-in-cheek battle with an uncontrollable flashing light leads a perfectly smooth show, it’s a genuinely enthralling evening. As memories of the grand afterparty at the Rosewood Hotel begin to take shape, here are some of our highlights from the 2017 Olivier Awards.


See more photos from the Olivier Awards here.

An evening of inspiration

Julian Bird, Chief Executive for the Society of London Theatre, launched this year’s ceremony with a nod to inspiration. The theme of the evening, he encouraged winners to consider their biggest influencers come their acceptance speech. And that they did.

What followed was an impassioned evening of celebration, but also awareness of painful cuts to culture and the arts. With young people in particular not being offered the same opportunities that have led many to tonight’s stage, it’s more important than ever for the nominees and attendees to look towards future generations.

With that, inspiration ran deep; from the guest appearance of the original “calendar girls” around Gary Barlow’s opening number of the same name (from The Girls), to Norma Dumezweni stunningly poignant acceptance speech for her Best Actress In A Supporting Role win. Playing Hermione in the widely victorious Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, she expressed her gratitude for being provided the opportunity following her arrival in the UK as a refugee at just three years old. Thanking her sister and mother, it was a moment filled with beautiful emotion.

The record-breaking Harry Potter

Dumezweni wasn’t the only member of the Harry Potter team to walk about with an award. In fact, the production now classes itself as a record-breaker, having totted up a total of nine awards to become the most decorated play or musical in Olivier history. It even surpassed previous records by Matilda the Musical and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Accepting his award for his portrayal of Scorpius Malfoy, Best Supporting Actor Anthony Boyle proceeded to enthusiastically single out everyone he knew in the audience, before screaming to his brother somewhere at the back of the auditorium.

Elsewhere the impressive victory saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child pick up awards for Best Sound Design, Best Costume, Best Set Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Actor for Jamie Parker.

It really was their night.

Amber Riley is our dream girl

As successful as Harry Potter was, it wasn’t the only thing to write home about. Amber Riley, currently playing Effie White in the West End production of Dreamgirls, floored onlookers with a spectacular live performance. It was the only standing ovation of the evening, and whole-heartedly deserved.

“Anyone who sees a little bit of themselves in me and sees me standing on this stage, I hope that you are inspired, I hope that you know that you can do this if you really want to,” she offered in her acceptance speech for her Best Actress in a Musical win, in-keeping with tonight’s theme.

Our future generations

There are plenty of glimmers of hope in the future of art and culture, not least the young stars of the excellent School of Rock. As well as their electrifying live performance during the evening, their well-deserved win for Outstanding Achievement in Music was accompanied by a heart-melting speech.

Taking it in turns to accept the award, the young cast acknowledged the influence of the adults involved in the show, as well as those who could not be up on stage with them. The most important message was to other aspiring youngsters. Pick up instruments and keep practicing, they advised. It’ll all be worth it.

A day to relive

The most exciting news to have emerged out of this year’s Olivier Awards was the possibility of a return of Groundhog Day. Having performed a number from the production, composer and lyricist Tim Minchin appeared genuinely shocked to be accepting the prestigious award for Best New Musical. Having also picked up a nod for actor Andy Karl, it became clear that Groundhog Day’s life in the West End was far from done. Apparently a return will be on the cards in the next year or so.

Here are all those Olivier Awards winners in full:

Best actor in a supporting role in a musical
WINNER: Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre
Ian Bartholomew for Half a Sixpence at Noël Coward 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
WINNER: Rebecca Trehearn for Show Boat at New London Theatre
Haydn Gwynne for The Threepenny Opera at National Theatre – Olivier
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt for Murder Ballad at Arts Theatre
Emma Williams for Half a Sixpence at Noël Coward Theatre

Outstanding achievement in music
WINNER: School Of Rock the Musical – Three children’s bands who play instruments live every night at New London Theatre
Dreamgirls – music by Henry Krieger at Savoy Theatre
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – composer and arranger Imogen Heap at Palace Theatre
Jesus Christ Superstar – The band and company creating the gig-like rock vibe of the original concept album of Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Best new dance production
WINNER: 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
WINNER: English National Ballet for expanding the variety of their repertoire with Giselle and She Said at Sadler’s Wells
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for their London season at Sadler’s Wells
Luke Ahmet for The Creation by Rambert at Sadler’s Wells

Best entertainment and family
WINNER: The Red Shoes at Sadler’s Wells
Cinderella at London Palladium
David Baddiel – My Family: Not The Sitcom at Vaudeville Theatre
Peter Pan at National Theatre – Olivier

Best theatre choreographer
WINNER: 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

Best musical revival
WINNER: Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Funny Girl at Savoy Theatre
Show Boat at New London Theatre
Sunset Boulevard at London Coliseum

Best actor in a musical
WINNER: Andy Karl for Groundhog Day at The Old Vic
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
Charlie Stemp for Half A Sixpence at Noël Coward Theatre

Best actress in a musical
WINNER: Amber Riley for Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre
Glenn Close for Sunset Boulevard at London Coliseum
“The Girls” – Debbie Chazen, Sophie-Louise Dann, Michele Dotrice, Claire Machin, Claire Moore and Joanna Riding – for The Girls at Phoenix Theatre
Sheridan Smith for Funny Girl at Savoy Theatre

Best revival
WINNER: Yerma at Young Vic
The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre
This House at Garrick Theatre
Travesties at Apollo Theatre

Best new comedy
WINNER: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at National Theatre – Dorfman
The Comedy about a Bank Robbery at Criterion Theatre
Nice Fish at Harold Pinter Theatre
The Truth at Wyndham’s Theatre

Outstanding achievement in an affiliate theatre
WINNER: Rotterdam at Trafalgar Studios 2
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

Best lighting design
WINNER: 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
WINNER: Gareth Fry for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
Paul Arditti for Amadeus at National Theatre – Olivier
Adam Cork for Travesties at Apollo Theatre
Nick Lidster for Autograph for Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Best costume design
WINNER: Katrina Lindsay for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
Gregg Barnes for Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre
Hugh Durrant for Cinderella at London Palladium
Rob Howell for Groundhog Day at The Old Vic

Best set design
WINNER: Christine Jones for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
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

Best actor in a supporting role
WINNER: 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
WINNER: Noma Dumezweni for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
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
Clare Foster for Travesties at Apollo Theatre
Kate O’Flynn for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre

Best new opera production
WINNER: Akhnaten at London Coliseum
4.48 Psychosis at Lyric Hammersmith
Cosi Fan Tutte at Royal Opera House
Lulu at London Coliseum

Outstanding achievement in opera
WINNER: Mark Wigglesworth for his conducting of Don Giovanni and Lulu at London Coliseum
Renee Fleming for her performance in Der Rosenkavalier at Royal Opera House
Stuart Skelton for his performance in Tristan and Isolde at London Coliseum

Best actor
WINNER: Jamie Parker for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
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

Best actress
WINNER: Billie Piper for Yerma at Young Vic
Glenda Jackson for King Lear at The Old Vic
Cherry Jones for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre
Ruth Wilson for Hedda Gabler at National Theatre – Lyttelton

Best director
WINNER: John Tiffany for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
Simon Stone for Yerma at Young Vic
John Tiffany for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s Theatre
Matthew Warchus for Groundhog Day at The Old Vic

Best new play
WINNER: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre
Elegy at Donmar Warehouse
The Flick at National Theatre – Dorfman
One Night In Miami… at Donmar Warehouse

Best new musical
WINNER: Groundhog Day at The Old Vic
Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre
The Girls at Phoenix Theatre
School of Rock the Musical at New London Theatre

Special award
WINNER: Sir Kenneth Branagh

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