Opinion: Reaction to the 2019 Olivier Awards

This year’s winners certainly highlighted the wonderful diversity in theatre this year – now can we please broadcast the full ceremony?

It would be fair to say that this is probably one of the most hard to call Olivier Awards in recent years given the high quality theatre in the last years with the likes of The Inheritance and gender swapped version of Stephen Sondheim’s Company – wowing audiences and critics alike. Thankfully it seems that the right winners seem to have been awarded – valuing the quality of performances rather than simply becoming a popularity contest.

Of course those cheering on The Inheritance and Company were not to be disappointed, with each production winning four accolades (deservedly – although unfortunately this writer didn’t get a chance to see either) while the heart warming and beautiful Come From Away took away the most prestigious musical award of the evening Best New Musical as well as Best Sound and Best Choreography. It feels as though real thought has gone into ensuring that a diverse range of productions were celebrated.

On a personal note, I was particularly proud to see Kobna Holdbrook-Smith being awarded Best Actor in a musical for his chillingly brilliant performance as Ike Turner in Tina – The Tina Turner Musical. It is a performance that is utterly believable from start to finish. It was a shame that Adrienne Warren wasn’t similarly rewarded for her performance as Tina Turner – but Sharon D Clarke as ever wowed audiences just as much in Caroline, Or Change and is a deserved winner for Best Actress in a Musical.

Elsewhere, I was also pleased to see Chris Walley awarded Best Supporting Actor in a Play for his debut role in The Lieutenant of Inishmore – let’s hope we see more of him on stage in future! Meanwhile, Catherine Zuber’s win for Best Costume Design for The King & I was thoroughly deserved thanks to her lavish and gorgeous costumes that reflected the exquisiteness of the production as a whole beautifully.

Now for the things that annoyed me from watching ITV’s broadcast. Firstly I have never enjoyed the fact that ITV only broadcast the highlights of the ceremony and at a ridiculous time of night – which only makes it seem as though no one has a real interest in the arts. But it is also the fact that because it is only the highlights those awards for dance, opera, sound, lighting are infuriatingly only given the briefest mention – despite their equal importance! Come on ITV show us the full ceremony! My final niggle is that during the in memoriam sequence (and Beverley Knight’s gorgeous rendition of Memory) the camera shots panning away from the stage meant that I couldn’t read some of the names of those being remembered was insensitively done to be honest – need to plan your camera shots a bit better please!

However, despite these niggles and problems this is perhaps the strongest Olivier Awards ceremony in recent years, filled with fabulous performances ( Bravo casts of The Lion King and Come From Away as well as Adrienne Warren from Tina – The Tina Turner Musical). Congratulations to all the winners!

By Emma Clarendon

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