Olivier Awards 2018 predictions: A look in the crystal ball…
We asked our critics to predict Sunday’s Olivier winners. Will there be a Hamil-tonne of gongs for the big hitter, or are their predictions just Follies?
Tim Bano’s forecasts
Tim Bano is joint lead critic for The Stage. He has also written for the Guardian and Time Out, and has worked as a producer on BBC Radio 4.
Best New Musical
• An American in Paris at Dominion Theatre
• Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Apollo Theatre
• Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic
• Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
• Young Frankenstein at Garrick Theatre
Should win: Hamilton
Will win: Hamilton
Why? Isn’t it obvious? It is to anyone who’s seen the show. It’s a shame Conor McPherson’s cryptic, desolating Bob Dylan musical Girl from the North Country is in the same year as Hamilton, because in many other years it would have (or should have) swept the board, being exactly the sort of form-breaking thing we could do with more of in British musical theatre. But Hamilton is Hamilton and it is mighty.
Best Musical Revival
• 42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury Lane
• Follies at National Theatre, Olivier
• On the Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Should win: Follies
Will win: Follies
Why? 42nd Street is a glorious thing and it’s difficult to resist being swept up in the tide of chattering tap shoes. But Follies was on another plane: casting, direction, design – all perfect. The colossal size and cost of Stephen Sondheim’s melancholy jewel means fully staged revivals are rare. But the National’s production showed how much they’re worth it.
Best New Comedy
• Dry Powder at Hampstead Theatre
• Labour of Love at Noel Coward Theatre
• Mischief Movie Night at Arts Theatre
• The Miser at Garrick Theatre
Should win: Labour of Love
Will win: Labour of Love
Why? This is a rather sorry looking set of nominees. Mischief Theatre has managed to milk its brand with mostly excellent results, but Mischief Movie Night was no better (nor worse) than other long-form improv shows. Hayley Atwell vehicle Dry Powder was forgettable and The Miser was nothing special. I was in the minority in not thinking James Graham’s light, political romcom Labour of Love was one of his best. Still, it’s the best of this bunch and one of two chances for Graham to get his first Olivier.
Best Actor in a Musical
• Ciaran Hinds for Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic
• John McCrea for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Apollo Theatre
• Giles Terera for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
• Jamael Westman for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
Should win: Giles Terera
Will win: Jamael Westman
Why? It’s unfair to suggest, as some have, that Hinds is merely filling space since he doesn’t sing in Girl from… because he gives a raw, roaring, profound performance – holding his family and the show together. An honourable mention goes to McCrea for sassing the hell out of Jamie. But really it’s a duel between Hamilton and Burr (Westman and Terera). And as knockout as Westman was, especially as Hamilton is only his third role since graduating, I’d be happy if, as in real life, Terera wins. He brought conflict and ambiguity to his part, which could easily have been overly, shallowly villainous.
Best Actress in a Musical
• Janie Dee for Follies at National Theatre, Olivier
• Shirley Henderson for Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic
• Imelda Staunton for Follies at National Theatre, Olivier
• Josie Walker for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Apollo Theatre
Should win: Shirley Henderson
Will win: Imelda Staunton
Why? This is an exceptionally strong list. Each nominee could have won in fairer years, from Janie Dee’s steely ferocity singing Could I Leave You to Josie Walker’s tear-jerking anthem of pride for her cross-dressing son, He’s My Boy. Maybe it’s a bit pot-stirring to suggest Shirley Henderson should beat the astonishing Imelda Staunton, but Henderson’s was one of the most piercing, unusual and utterly compelling performances of recent years. It wasn’t just that she could belt out a tune – even though, bloody hell, she can – but I’m still haunted by her character, whose early-onset dementia made it seem like she could see the audience, as if we were in her head. Still, Imelda’s renditions of In Buddy’s Eyes and Losing My Mind were second only to Barbara Cook in all Follies’ history.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical
• Michael Jibson for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
• Ross Noble for Young Frankenstein at Garrick Theatre
• Jason Pennycooke for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
• Cleve September for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
Should win: Michael Jibson
Will win: Michael Jibson
Why? King George is a gift of a comic role, but Jibson brought something desperate and sinister to it and, out of the Hamilton nominees, his performance was the most memorable.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical
• Sheila Atim for Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic
• Tracie Bennett for Follies at National Theatre, Olivier
• Rachel John for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
• Lesley Joseph for Young Frankenstein at Garrick Theatre
Should win: Sheila Atim
Will win: Rachel John
Why? Where is Rachelle Ann Go? Her performance as Eliza is as good as Rachel John’s Angelica. If the judges get caught up in Hamilton mania, they may plump for John. But Sheila Atim is a great and mighty wonder with a stunning voice and, even if she doesn’t win, this will not be the last we see of her on the Olivier lists.
Natasha Tripney’s forecasts
Natasha is The Stage’s reviews editor and joint lead critic.
• Paddy Considine for The Ferryman at Gielgud Theatre and Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court Theatre
• Bryan Cranston for Network at National Theatre Lyttelton
• Andrew Garfield for Angels in America at National Theatre Lyttelton
• Andrew Scott for Hamlet at Almeida Theatre
Should win: Andrew Scott
Will win: Andrew Garfield
Why? Andrew Scott’s Shakespearean performance in Robert Icke’s Hamlet was one of the finest in years, undone by grief, alert to the texture of the verse, human and moving, but I suspect Andrew Garfield will edge it for Angels.
• Laura Donnelly for The Ferryman at Gielgud Theatre and Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre
• Lesley Manville for Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Wyndham’s Theatre
• Audra McDonald for Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill at Wyndham’s Theatre
• Imelda Staunton for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Harold Pinter Theatre
Should win: Laura Donnelly
Will win: Lesley Manville
Why? Laura Donnelly was the emotional centre of The Ferryman and her performance was generous, warm and poignant. She was the antidote to some of the play’s excesses and is compelling in everything, but the immensity of Lesley Manville’s performance in Long Day’s Journey will probably win it.
• Dominic Cooke for Follies at National Theatre Olivier
• Marianne Elliott for Angels in America at National Theatre Lyttelton
• Rupert Goold for Ink at Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre
• Thomas Kail for Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre
• Sam Mendes for The Ferryman at Gielgud Theatre and Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre
Should win: Dominic Cooke
Will win: Dominic Cooke
Why? Follies was a magnificent achievement, beautifully cast, emotionally potent and an extraordinary bit of theatre. Credit for so much of that has to go to Cooke for creating such an evocative piece while doing battle with the National’s least-friendly auditorium and emerging triumphant.
• Angels in America at the National Theatre, Lyttelton
• Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre
• Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Harold Pinter Theatre
• Witness for the Prosecution at London County Hall
Should win: Hamlet
Will win: Angels in America
Why? This is, you have to admit, one of the odder categories in this year’s Olivier awards, pitting site-specific Christie against a vast Tony Kushner two-parter. Robert Icke’s unexpectedly moving Hamlet has stayed with me longest but in terms of ambition, star power and its impact as an event, I suspect Angels will fly away with the statuette.
Best new play
• The Ferryman at the Gielgud Theatre and Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre
• Ink at the Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre
• Network at the National Theatre, Lyttelton
• Oslo at the Harold Pinter Theatre
Should win: Barber Shop Chronicles
Will win: The Ferryman
Why? Wait, what? Barber Shop Chronicles – one of the most exciting plays of last year – hasn’t been nominated? Ah, well, Butterworth’s going to win it for The Ferryman, obviously – a play made for mopping up awards if ever there was one.
Best actor in a supporting role
• Bertie Carvel for Ink at Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre
• John Hodgkinson for The Ferryman at Gielgud Theatre and Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre
• James McArdle for Angels in America at National Theatre, Lyttelton
• Peter Polycarpou for Oslo at Harold Pinter Theatre
Should win: Bertie Carvel
Will win: Bertie Carvel
Why? Bertie Carvel’s portrayal of a young Rupert Murdoch was a transformative bit of acting – Carvel is one of those actors who really knows how to use his body to shape a character – that managed to make him, if not exactly, sympathetic, then at least human.
Best actress in a supporting role
• Brid Brennan for The Ferryman at Gielgud Theatre and Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre
• Denise Gough for Angels in America at National Theatre, Lyttelton
• Dearbhla Molloy for The Ferryman at Gielgud Theatre and Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre
• Imogen Poots for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Harold Pinter Theatre
Should win: Denise Gough
Will win: Denise Gough
Why? Among a superb cast, Denise Gough performed with customary intensity and emotional acuity. She’s a transfixing presence on stage and Marianne Elliott’s production used that energy to her advantage.
George Hall’s forecasts
George writes widely on opera and has contributed regularly to The Stage since 2000.
Best new opera production
• La Boheme at Trafalgar Studios 2
• The Exterminating Angel at the Royal Opera House
• Semiramide at the Royal Opera House
Should win: Semiramide
Will win: The Exterminating Angel
Why? In 2011, OperaUpClose’s contemporary version of Puccini’s La Boheme won the award, though whether this similarly slimmed-down staging can repeat the trick remains to be seen. Both Thomas Ades’ opera based on Luis Bunuel’s movie and David Alden’s production of Rossini’s Babylonian epic were well received, but The Exterminating Angel has the cachet of a major new work.
Outstanding achievement in opera
• Paul Brown for his set and costume designs for Iolanthe at the London Coliseum
• Joyce DiDonato and Daniela Barcellona for their performances in Semiramide at the Royal Opera House
• Roderick Williams for his performance in the Royal Opera’s The Return of Ulysses at the Roundhouse
Should win: Paul Brown
Will win: Joyce DiDonato and Daniela Barcellona
Why? Roderick Williams’ performance in Monteverdi’s opera was the centrepiece of a co-production between the Royal Opera and the Roundhouse that was a credit to everyone involved, while Paul Brown’s brilliant designs for the Gilbert and Sullivan comedy set the seal on a huge English National Opera success, but the quality of singing from Joyce DiDonato and Daniela Barcellona in Rossini’s epic was astonishing.
Neil Norman’s forecasts
Neil is a playwright and critic. He is a long-standing contributor of dance reviews to The Stage since 2000.
Best new dance production
• Flight Pattern by Crystal Pite at Royal Opera House
• Goat by Ben Duke for Rambert Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells
• Grand Finale by Hofesh Shechter at Sadler’s Wells
• Tree of Codes by Wayne McGregor and the Paris Opera Ballet at Sadler’s Wells
Should win: Goat
Will win: Flight Pattern
Why? Crystal Pite’s first commission for the Royal Ballet addressed the refugee crisis in a densely packed work that combined images of hope and horror, resilience and despair.
Outstanding achievement in dance
• Rocio Molina for pushing the boundary of flamenco in Fallen from Heaven (Caida Del Cielo) for Dance Umbrella at Barbican Theatre
• Francesca Velicu for her performance in English National Ballet’s production of Pina Bausch’s Le Sacre Du Printemps at Sadler’s Wells
• Zenaida Yanowsky for her performance in Liam Scarlett’s Symphonic Dances at Royal Opera House
Should win: Rocio Molina
Will win: Zenaida Yanowsky