Editor Emma Clarendon was at the annual awards ceremony for the very first time last night – here’s a few of her thoughts…
It was a genuine thrill to be at the Olivier Awards last night (not least to of course see Hamilton pick up seven awards) to see how the experience compares to watching the highlights on ITV later on in the evening.
There was plenty to celebrate in what has been another strong year for theatre. Aside from Hamilton, a revival of Follies, Girl From the North Country capturing people’s hearts and The Ferryman having a strong run at both the Royal Court and in the West End have been just a small selection of highlights and for the most part the awards celebrated the diversity of theatre.
But it has to be said that as always, the Olivier Awards seems to be very London focused and the time is fast approaching that it needs to celebrate regional theatre as well if it doesn’t want to come across as too elitist and alienate potential audiences from across the country from enjoying theatre and the awards themselves.
Despite this, the 2018 Olivier Awards felt like a true celebration of just how much variety theatre has to offer and for the most part this was reflected in the awards. Yes, it was widely predicted that Hamilton would do well – but it was also pleasing to see shows like The Girl From the North Country being recognised by awarding Sheila Atim Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and Shirley Henderson as Best Actress in a Musical.
This feeling was really enhanced by some absolutely phenomenal performances by some top quality shows – not least Sheila Atim’s absolutely stunning performance of Tight Connection to My Heart, which saw her receiving a deserved standing ovation from the audience, a fabulous tap dance routine from the cast of 42nd Street and electrifying performance from the cast of Hamilton who opened the show.
It was a real mix of winners and it was pleasing to see An American in Paris winning for Best Set Design (if you didn’t get a chance to see it – it was so beautiful and charming) despite the slight disappointment of 42nd Street walking away without the deserved Best Musical Revival which went to Follies or the Best Costume Design which also went to Follies. It has to be said as well that it was great to see Best Supporting Actor going to Michael Jobson’s performance as King George in Hamilton (which despite its shortness is hilarious and brilliant) and Giles Terera also winning Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Hamilton as well.
Overall, despite some hiccups (how on earth could the Olivier Awards forget to include Peter Hall in its in memory of segment?) this felt like a true celebration of change in the world of theatre based in London – now the Olivier’s need to show the same love and diversity in regional theatre as well.
For the full list of 2018 Olivier Award winners visit: https://officiallondontheatre.com/olivier-awards/year/2018/