Matilda The Musical dominated this morning’s announcement at London’s Mayfair Hotel of the shortlist for the Olivier Awards 2012, the winners of which will be revealed at a ceremony held at the Royal Opera House on Sunday 15 April hosted by Sweeney Todd stars Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.
The announcement – which, for the first time, was simultaneously broadcast online – was made to an audience of industry bigwigs, performers (including all of the Billy Elliots) and critics by 2011 Best Actress and Best Actor winners Nancy Caroll and Roger Allam, who provoked laughter with his careful emphasis on “uninterrupted” when talking about the coverage of next month’s ceremony by the BBC.
Matilda stacks up an impressive number of nominations – the maximum possible for a musical – in categories ranging from Best New Musical to choreography, lighting, set, costume and sound design. Sean Foley is up for Best Director, while Bertie Carvel, Paul Kaye and ‘The Matildas’ have been nominated for – respectively – Best Actor in a Musical, Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical.
In the Best New Musical category, Matilda is up against Betty Blue Eyes and its Kylie-voiced pig, Ghost the Musical, the innovative London Roadand Shrek the Musical, based on the blockbuster animated film. London Road also features in the Best Director and Best Theatre Choreographer shortlists.
On the non-musical side, Richard Bean’s hilarious comedy One Man, Two Guvnors garners an impressive five nominations, including Best New Play, Best Actor for James Corden and Best Director for Nicholas Hytner. Ealing Studios film adaptation The Ladykillers picked up the same number of nominations for many of the same awards, with Sean Foley appearing for a second time in the Best Director category. Marcia Warren makes the Best Actress shortlist.
Also up for Best Actress are Lesley Manville for Grief, Kristin Scott Thomas for Betrayal, Celia Imrie for Noises Off and Ruth Wilson for Anna Christie. The latter two productions are in contention to win the Best Revival award, as are Flare Path and the David Tennant and Catherine Tate-starring Much Ado About Nothing. Frankenstein’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, jointly nominated for Best Actor, face stiff competition from David Haig for The Madness of King George III, (who, according to our reviewer, “seizes upon the play’s rich potential for comedy and pathos with an authority that is nothing short of extraordinary“), Jude Law for Anna Christie and Douglas Hodge for his tornado-like performance in Inadmissible Evidence.
Elsewhere, Collaborators and Jumpy join The Ladykillers and One Man, Two Guvnors on the Best New Play shortlist; and Derren Brown – Svengali, Midnight Tango, Potted Potter and The Tiger Who Came To Tea are up for the Best Entertainment and Family award. Mark Addy (Collaborators), Oliver Chris (One Man, Two Guvnors), Johnny Flynn (Jerusalem), Bryony Hannah (The Children’s Hour) and Sheridan Smith (Flare Path) are all in the running for Best Performance in a Supporting Role.
Speaking with Exeunt straight after the announcement, Mark Shenton, chief theatre critic for the Sunday Express and reviewer and blogger for The Stage, shared his thoughts on the theatrical nominations: “It’s striking that, as always, subsidised theatre dominates. It’s interesting that the three biggies – Matilda, London Road and One Man, Two Guvnors – are all original shows through the National Theatre and the RSC. What that tells me is that those theatres have a development process in place that the West End, which tends to pick up shows from elsewhere, signally lacks.”
The Oliviers also recognise achievement in the fields of opera and dance. The English National Opera dominates the Best New Opera Production category, claiming three of the four productions on the list. Amanda Holden’s translation of Castor and Pollux sees her competing for the Outstanding Achievement Award in Opera with the likes of ENO and Richard Jones for his direction of Anna Nicole and Il Trittico.
In the Outstanding Achievement in Dance category, The Design Team’s work on the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will be judged against performances from Edward Watson in The Metamorphosis, Sylvie Guillem in her production of 6000 Miles Away and Tommy Franzen in the brilliantly named Some Like It Hip Hop – which is also up for Best New Dance Production alongside The Metamorphosis, Desh and Gardenia.
Run by the Society of London Theatre and established in 1976 as the Society of West End Theatre Awards, “to celebrate the range and quality of talent in the world capital of theatre,” the Oliviers were re- named in 1984 in honour of Laurence Olivier. Four panels comprising professionals and members of the public – Theatre, Opera, Dance and Affiliates (which see shows in London theatres that are affiliated with but not full members of SOLT) – collectively see more than 200 productions a year as part of the selection and judging process.
The full list of the 2012 nominations can be found at the Olivier Awards website.