The biggest night in the theatre calendar, we look ahead to this year’s Olivier Awards with our verdict on the nominations in the top categories. With stunning performances and brand new shows thrilling audiences of all ages, the 2014-2015 theatrical season has been a blast, and there’s much to celebrate…
Mastercard Best New Musical
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at Aldwych Theatre
Here Lies Love at National Theatre, Dorfman
Memphis the Musical at Shaftesbury Theatre
Sunny Afternoon at Hampstead Theatre and Harold Pinter Theatre
The buzz around Beautiful – The Carole King Musical hasn’t yet died down, having opened just a few short weeks ago, and the transfer from Broadway has delighted London audiences; the Olivier Award nominations, of which it has received eight, are very telling. Pipping it to the post as most-nominated show however is Memphis The Musical – with nine nods, stunning star power in pop icon Beverley Knight, and the winner of Tony Award for Best Musical in 2010, the show is perhaps the slight favourite for the top award. Kinks celebration Sunny Afternoon and the National Theatre’s innovative Here Lies Love (written by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim) round off the nominations.
Best Actress in a Musical
Gemma Arterton for Made in Dagenham at Adelphi Theatre
Katie Brayben for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at Aldwych Theatre
Tamsin Greig for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown the Musical at Playhouse Theatre
Beverley Knight for Memphis the Musical at Shaftesbury Theatre
From a pop superstar, to TV comedy royalty, and a Hollywood A-lister, the Best Actress in a Musical category is full of big names this year. But the one to watch may very well be Katie Brayben; the star of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is making a name for herself in the most hotly-anticipated Broadway transfer in years, and we all know that portrayals of real people tend to scoop the prizes come awards season, both on screen and on stage.
Best Actor in a Musical
Jon Jon Briones for Miss Saigon at Prince Edward Theatre
John Dagleish for Sunny Afternoon at Hampstead Theatre and Harold Pinter Theatre
Killian Donnelly for Memphis the Musical at Shaftesbury Theatre
Brandon Victor Dixon for The Scottsboro Boys at Garrick Theatre
There’s no clear favourite in the Best Actor in a Musical category but the actors in the two biggest shows represented here probably stand the best chance; Jon Jon Briones leads an incredible ensemble in Miss Saigon, and Killian Donnelly’s star shines brightly opposite Beverley Knight in Memphis. Brandon Victor Dixon’s performance has earned the stunning Scottsboro Boys their only nomination however, and John Dagleish’s performance as Kinks frontman Ray Davies is surely the audience favourite in this field.
Best New Comedy
Handbagged at Vaudeville Theatre
The Play That Goes Wrong at Duchess Theatre
Shakespeare in Love at Noël Coward Theatre
The hilarious Handbagged, originally at the Tricycle Theatre in 2010, re-imagined a sharply witty relationship between Margaret Thatcher and The Queen, appearing in the West End for a very funny five months. Laugh-a-minute romp The Play That Goes Wrong did an excellent of job of having audiences up and down the country in convulsive fits of laughter before it finally settled in its West End home at the Duchess Theatre; its meta-theatrical plotline might see it find favour with the voters. Shakespeare in Love is probably the favourite here though – an impressive screen-to-stage adaptation, and staged by Shakespeare maestros Cheek By Jowl, it’s been winning over critics and audiences alike since its debut in July.
This Morning Audience Award
Billy Elliot the Musical at Victoria Palace Theatre
Jersey Boys at Piccadilly Theatre
Matilda the Musical at Cambridge Theatre
Wicked at Apollo Victoria Theatre
In the only category voted for by the public, four of the West End’s most established musicals are set to compete for the ultimate Audience Award in the business. Much-loved shows Billy Elliot and Wicked have already walked away with the award in previous years, and could this year join Les Miserables as a two-time recipient – the current record for the award, which has been handed out annually since 2010. Let’s not rule out the other shows however – Jersey Boys, a SuperBreak favourite, has been pulling in audiences since 2008, and Matilda is simply adored by audiences of all ages!
Which show will you be voting for? Let us know in the comments section below!