The Olivier Awards are the London equivalent of the Tony Awards. These kudos fete the best of the West End. This year’s edition on April 9 hosted by Jason Manford will also salute six individuals who have motivated a others with their commitment to theatre. These “Be Inspired Champions” will take to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall to each receive a plaque.
Stuart Clements: a drama teacher at a specialist school for children with autism, speech, language and communication difficulties.
Sally-Anne Coleman: a choreographer and director who died shortly after the winners were decided.
Harry Gabriel: Stage door keeper at the Shaftesbury Theatre for more than 35 years.
Janet Hudson-Holt: Costume supervisor for the world’s longest running stage show, “The Mousetrap.”
Edwin Shaw: Box office manager at the London Palladium for 22 years and now a consultant for Really Useful Theatres.
Mark Thorburn: Artistic director of Coventry Youth Operetta Group and coordinator of the centenary celebrations of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.
Unlike the Tony Awards, which are showcased live on CBS, these top London theater honors get only a clips package on ITV later that evening and a live feed on BBC Radio 2.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” earned a record number of Olivier Awards nominations for a play by reaping 11 bids. That equalled the benchmark set by the musical “Hairspray” back in 2008. Among the nominations for this two-part production are Best Play as well as mentions in three acting categories and across all four design awards as well as choreography and music. And “Harry Potter” helmer John Tiffany is competing against himself for his direction of the revival of the Tennessee Williams‘ play “The Glass Menagerie,” which was on Broadway in 2013.
Among tuners, “Groundhog Day, which opens later this month on Broadway, has a leading eight nominations including Best Musical. Also contending in that category is “Dreamgirls,” as this 1982 Tony nominee had never had a West End production till now. “School of Rock” and “The Girls” round out that race.
Among the more competitive races, Best Actor (play) pits six-time champ Sir Ian McKellen (“No Man’s Land”) against three Olivier rookies: Ed Harris (“Buried Child”), Tom Hollander (“Travesties) and “Harry Potter” star Jamie Parker.
The Best Actress (Play) race welcomes back Glenda Jackson for the first time since 1984 with a nomination for “King Lear.” She vies against two-time Tony champ Cherry Jones (“The Glass Menagerie), Billie Piper (“Yerma) and Ruth Wilson (“Hedda Gabler”).
On the musical side, Glenn Close contends for Best Actress for the remounting of “Sunset Boulevard.” While she won a Tony for this show back in 1995 (thereby making her ineligible for the current rialto revival) she never played the part of Norma Desmond on this side of the pond till now. She contends against: Amber Riley who took on the “Dreamgirls” role that won Jennifer Holliday a Tony and Jennifer Hudson the Oscar; Sheridan Smith in “Funny Girl,” the show that launched Barbra Streisand; and the cast of “The Girls.”
And West End newcomer Charlie Stemp (“Half a Sixpence”) contends for Best Actor against the stars of two Andrew Lloyd Webber shows — David Fynn (“School Of Rock”) and Tyrone Huntley (“Jesus Christ Superstar”) — as well as “Groundhog Day” star Andy Karl.