Angela Lansbury has picked up her first Olivier Award at the age of 89 following the reprise of her Tony-winning performance in Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” (which marked her return to the London stage after a 40-year absence). She won the trophy for supporting actress in a play for her turn as the eccentric medium Madame Arcati at the West End’s Apollo Theater last year.
“Sunny Afternoon,” the musical about rock band The Kinks, was the surprising big winner at the 2015 Olivier Awards, fending off strong competition from both “Memphis” and “Beautiful” to take new musical. It totalled four awards, with lead actor and supporting actor in a musical going to John Dagleish and George Maguire respectively, while the band’s frontman Ray Davies won the award for achievement in music.
Despite leading the nominations, Broadway imports “Memphis” and “Beautiful “only took home two awards apiece. Katie Brayben and Lorna Want won actress and supporting actress respectively for their performances as Carole King and Cynthia Weil in “Beautiful,” while “Memphis” won its pair for choreography (Sergio Trujillo) and sound design (Gareth Owen). They were matched by the Donmar Warehouse’s staging of “City of Angels,” which won best musical revival and lighting design (Howard Harrison).
The Young Vic fared particularly well, leading artistic director David Lan to joke that he was happy just “to run the best theater in Waterloo,” let alone London — a joke that might have chimed with special award recipient Kevin Spacey, recognized for his decade helming the nearby Old Vic. The Young Vic’s production of “A View from the Bridge,” staged by the Belgian director Ivo Van Hove, won three Oliviers, including best revival, best director and best actor for Mark Strong, himself returning to the London stage after a lengthy absence.
Lan’s theater also won Acheivement in an Affilate Theater for “Bull,” making playwright Mike Bartlett another double-winner. His “future-history” play “King Charles III,” which imagines Britain following the death of the Queen, won best new play, and is due to announce details of an imminent Broadway run.
“Wolf Hall,” which has just made the same transatlantic jump, won for costume design (Christopher Oram) and best supporting actor for Nathaniel Parker, who plays Henry VIII. Penelope Wilton won best actress — after five nominations without a win — for her performance in Taken at Midnight.
The full list of winners at the 2015 Olivier Awards:
Best revival: “A View from the Bridge” at the Young Vic and Wyndham’s theatre
Best new comedy: “The Play That Goes Wrong” at the Duchess theatre
Outstanding achievement in an affiliate theatre: “Bull” at the Maria at the Young Vic
Best lighting design: Howard Harrison for “City of Angels” at the Donmar Warehouse
Best sound design: Gareth Owen for “Memphis: The Musical” at Shaftesbury theatre
Best costume design: Christopher Oram for “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies” at Aldwych theatre
Best set design: Es Devlin for “The Nether” at Duke of York’s theatre
Best actor in a supporting role: Nathaniel Parker for “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies” at the Aldwych theatre
Best actress in a supporting role: Angela Lansbury for “Blithe Spirit” at the Gielgud theatre
Best new opera production: “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg” at London Coliseum
Outstanding achievement in opera Richard Jones for his direction of “The Girl of the Golden West,” “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg” and “Rodelinda” at London Coliseum
Best new play: “King Charles III” at the Almeida theatre and Wyndham’s theatre
Best actor: Mark Strong for “A View from the Bridge” at the Young Vic and Wyndham’s theatre
Best actress: Penelope Wilton for “Taken at Midnight” at Theatre Royal Haymarket
Audience award: “Wicked” at the Apollo Victoria theatre
Best new dance production: “32 Rue Vandenbranden” by Peeping Tom at the Barbican / “Mats Ek’s Juliet and Romeo” by Royal Swedish Ballet at Sadler’s Wells
Outstanding achievement in dance: Crystal Pite for her choreography in the productions of “The Associates – A Picture of You Falling,” “The Tempest Replica” and “Polaris “at Sadler’s Wells
Best entertainment and family: “La Soirée” at La Soirée Spiegeltent
Best theatre choreographer: Sergio Trujillo for “Memphis: The Musical” at Shaftesbury theatre
Best director: Ivo Van Hove for “A View from the Bridge” at the Young Vic and Wyndham’s theatre
Outstanding achievement in music: Ray Davies for “Sunny Afternoon” at Hampstead theatre and Harold Pinter theatre
Best actor in a supporting role in a musical: George Maguire for “Sunny Afternoon” at Hampstead theatre and Harold Pinter theatre
Best actress in a supporting role in a musical: Lorna Want for “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” at Aldwych theatre
Best musical revival: “City of Angels” at Donmar Warehouse
Best actor in a musical: John Dagleish for “Sunny Afternoon” at Hampstead theatre and Harold Pinter theatre
Best actress in a musical: Katie Brayben for “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” at Aldwych theatre
Best new musical: “Sunny Afternoon” at Hampstead theatre and Harold Pinter theatre
Special awards: Sylvie Guillem and Kevin Spacey