Opinion: Reaction to the 2022 Olivier Awards

Emma Clarendon discusses her thoughts on this year’s awards which saw Cabaret and Life of Pi celebrated.

There was certainly plenty to be celebrated at the Olivier Awards which made a welcome return to the Royal Albert Hall yesterday (10th April 2022) to honour some of the best theatre to have emerged in the last twelve months (despite disruption still due to the pandemic).

While it has been pointed out that there were other musicals to celebrate rather than just Cabaret, the other thing that should be taken into consideration is that there is always one show that seems to shine at the Olivier Awards – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Hamilton for example have done extremely well in the past – and yet I didn’t hear many complaining that it didn’t allow other shows to shine. Yes, it would be lovely to see the awards being more equally distributed between those nominated but as none of us are there during the judging process it is difficult to know what the criteria or thought process is in deciding who wins what.

For my part, I was delighted to see Cabaret winning seven awards – including all four in the musical acting categories. Eddie Redmayne, Jessie Buckley, Elliott Levy and Liza Sadovy all gave dynamic performances that were an utter privilege to watch – I’m so pleased to have seen this cast twice. This being said, I enjoyed the fierceness of Amy Lennox’s performance of the title song as one of the highlights of the show, making me eager to go and see the show again with the new cast!

Meanwhile, while I have not yet managed to get around to seeing Life of Pi as of yet, I have heard nothing but good things about it – so everyone working on that show must be so delighted with their five Olivier Awards – including Best Lighting Design for Tim Lutkin and Andrzej Goulding, Best Set Design for Tim Hatley for Design and Nick Barnes & Finn Caldwell for Puppets for Life and Best Actor in a supporting role for the actors who play the tiger in the show. The performance from the cast was hauntingly beautiful and the puppets are just wonderful – demand for tickets for this show are most likely to go up.

Elsewhere, I know many will be disappointed that Kathleen Marshall’s critically acclaimed revival of Anything Goes didn’t get more awards (Best Theatre Choreographer) and it is a real shame that it didn’t get more recognition – but I’m sure that will not affect people wanting to catching it live on stage again this year, particularly given the stupendous performance that was delivered by the new cast who took to the stage in a delightful performance.

I was also pleased that Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of) won Best Entertainment or Comedy Play – it was so hilarious to watch on stage and hopefully this means it will make a return in either another London run or even a UK tour so that more audiences get a chance to see it! On this point, I have to say that it is still very frustrating that the Olivier Awards is still very much London focused, knowing that there is excellent regional work that should be given higher recognition – I know it would be difficult for them to compete with the bigger productions around but they should at least be given the chance.

This year’s Olivier Awards was filled with diversity in terms of performances and winners – and it was really lovely of the ceremony to acknowledge the hard work of the understudies, swings and alternates who have to go on stage at the very last minute. It felt like a very joyous occasion – my only regret was not being there in person to experience it for myself. My only main quibble is still the demand for the entire ceremony to be shown on television – if you can do it for the BAFTAs then you can certainly do it for the Olivier Awards.

Overall, it was a wonderful evening to celebrate the return of the Oliviers and to see so many of the theatre industry to come together and celebrate one another’s talent and hard work.

By Emma Clarendon

For a full list of winners visit: https://officiallondontheatre.com/olivier-awards/year/olivier-awards-2022/

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