Hotly-tipped hit “Matilda — the Musical” won seven Olivier Awards including the top musical laurel, breaking the record for the biggest number of wins in the history of London’s annual legit kudofest.
Nommed in ten categories, the Royal Shakespeare Company production’s haul beats the record of six wins for a single production set in 1980 by the same company with its production “Nicholas Nickleby.”
“Matilda — The Musical,” now at the West End’s Cambridge Theater and skedded for 2013 Broadway berth, won actor in a musical (Bertie Carvel), set (Rob Howell, his third Olivier), choreography (Peter Darling, his second), sound (Simon Baker) and actress in a musical shared by the four young actresses in the title role: Cleo Demetriou, Kerry Ingram, Sophia Kiely and Eleanor Worthington-Cox. The last of these, age ten, becomes the youngest ever winner of an Olivier. “Matilda” also won the director prize for helmer Matthew Warchus, who was presented with the laurel by James Earl Jones via a live link to a Gotham Olivier reception.
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It was also a good night for helmer Rob Ashford (Broadway’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”). His Donmar Warehouse production of “Anna Christie” beat stiff competish to win the revival title while his leading lady, Ruth Wilson, picked up the actress trophy for her performance in the title role. Wilson previously won the 2010 supporting actress Olivier for her perf in Ashford’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Meanwhile, Ashford’s production of “Shrek the Musical” netted the award for perf in a supporting role in a musical for Nigel Harman as villain Lord Farquaad.
There was further repeat business for Regent’s Park Open Air Theater, whose musical revival award for “Crazy For You” (helmed by a.d. Timothy Sheader) marked the venue’s third consecutive win in the category. The transfer of its 2011 winner “Into The Woods,” helmed by Sheader and Liam Steel, begins a run at Gotham’s Shakespeare in the Park in July.
“Crazy For You” also picked up the costume award for Peter McKintosh.
The surprise of the night was that the National’s “One Man, Two Guvnors” failed to convert any of its five noms. However, it lost out in the play category to another National Theater drama, “Collaborators,” the stage debut of screenwriter John Hodge (“Shallow Grave,” “A Life Less Ordinary.”) And, as widely expected, the actor award went to the National’s double-act of Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, who nightly swapped the roles of creature and creator in “Frankenstein.” That show also scored the lighting kudo for designer Bruno Poet.
Solo act Derren Brown won his second entertainment Olivier for “Derren Brown æ Svengali,” (returning to the West End July 12-Aug. 11), and Sheridan Smith built on her 2011 actress in a musical award for “Legally Blonde” with a supporting actress win for her dramatic turn in the Terence Rattigan play “Flare Path.”
Other shows that went away empty-handed include Matthew Warchus’s tuner production of “Ghost” (whose Broadway transfer is currently previewing at the Lunt-Fontanne) and “The Ladykillers,” which had received five noms apiece.
The evening also saw special awards for Dame Monica Mason, outgoing director of the Royal Ballet, and lyricist Sir Tim Rice, whose contribution to theater was celebrated with perfs by led by Maria Friedman, Siobhan McCarthy, Elaine Paige and the cast of “The Lion King.” The BBC Radio 2 audience award for most popular show went to “Les Miserables” in its 25th anniversary year.
The 36th Olivier awards, presented by the Society of London Theater, were hosted for the second year running by Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton and held for the first time at the Royal Opera House. Coincidentally, the house was also the venue for “The Metamorphosis,” which bagged the achievement in dance award for Royal Ballet dancer Edward Watson. Both opera awards, however, went to rival English National Opera.
And the winners are:
“Matilda — The Musical,” Cambridge Theater
Mastercard Best Play
John Hodge, “Collaborators,” National Theater
Rob Ashford, “Anna Christie,” Donmar Warehouse
Ruth Wilson, “Anna Christie”
Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, “Frankenstein,” National Theater
Matthew Warchus, “Matilda — The Musical”
Peter Darling, “Matilda — The Musical”
Actor in a Musical
Berte Carvel, “Matilda — the Musical”
Actress in a Musial
Cleo Demetriou, Kerry Ingram, Sophia Kiely and Eleanor Worthington Cox, “Matilda – The Musical”
“Derren Brown: Svengali,” Shaftesbury
Performance in a Supporting Role
Sheridan Smith, “Flare Path,” Theater Royal Haymarket
Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical
Nigel Harman, “Shrek — The Musical,” Theater Royal Drury Lane
“Crazy For You,” Regent’s Park Open Air
Bruno Poet, “Frankenstein”
XL Video Award Best Set
Rob Howell, “Matilda — The Musical”
Peter McKintosh, “Crazy For You”
Simon Baker, “Matilda — The Musical”
Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theater
“Roadkill,” Theater Royal, Stratford East in association with the Barbican and Traverse Theater
New Opera Production
English National Opera’s “Castor and Pollux,” London Coliseum
Outstanding Achievement in Opera
English National Opera for the breadth and diversity of its artistic program
Outstanding Achievement in Dance
Edward Watson for his performance in “The Metamorphosis,” Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House
New Dance Production
“DESH,” Akram Khan Company, Sadler’s Wells,
BBC Radio 2 Olivier Audience Award