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Olivier Awards 2018 predictions: A look in the crystal ball…

Olivier Awards nominees (clockwise from top right) Shiela Atim, John Hodgkinson, and goose, in The Ferryman, Imelda Staunton and Andrew Scott. Credits: Tristram Kenton, Johan Persson, Manuel Harlan and Tristram Kenton Olivier Awards nominees (clockwise from top right) Shiela Atim, John Hodgkinson, and goose, in The Ferryman, Imelda Staunton and Andrew Scott. Credits: Tristram Kenton, Johan Persson, Manuel Harlan and Tristram Kenton
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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.

Rachelle Ann Go, Rachel John and Christine Allado in Hamilton. Photo: Matthew Murphy

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.

 


Imelda Staunton n Follies at the Olivier, National Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Imelda Staunton in Follies. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best Musical Revival

Nominees:

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.

 


Hayley Atwell in Dry Powder. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Hayley Atwell in Dry Powder.
Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best New Comedy

Nominees:

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.

 


Jamie McCrea and cast in Everybody's Talking About Jamie. Photo: Alastair Muir
Jamie McCrea and cast in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Photo: Alastair Muir

Best Actor in a Musical

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Shirley Henderson in Girl From The North Country. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Shirley Henderson in Girl from the North Country. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best Actress in a Musical

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Jason Pennycooke in Hamilton. Photo: Matthew Murphy
Jason Pennycooke in Hamilton. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Sheila Atim in Girl from the North Country. Credit: Tristram Kenton
Sheila Atim in Girl from the North Country. Credit: Tristram Kenton

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Nominees:

• 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.

Andrew Scott in Hamlet. Credit: Manuel Harlan
Andrew Scott in Hamlet. Credit: Manuel Harlan

Best actor

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Lesley Manville in Long Days Journe. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
Lesley Manville in Long Days Journey Into Night. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Best actress

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Marianne Elliott and Tony Kushner in Angels in America rehearsals. Photo: Helen Maybanks
Marianne Elliott and Tony Kushner in Angels in America rehearsals. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Best director

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Susan Brown and Andrew Garfield in Angels in America. Photo: Helen Maybanks
Susan Brown and Andrew Garfield in Angels in America. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Best revival

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Owen McDonnell and Rosalie Craig in the current cast of The Ferryman. Photo: Johan Persson

Best new play

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Bertie Carvel in Ink. Credit: Marc Brenner
Bertie Carvel in Ink. Credit: Marc Brenner

Best actor in a supporting role

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Denise Gough in Angels in America. Photo: Helen Maybanks
Denise Gough in Angels in America. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Best actress in a supporting role

Nominees:

• 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.

A scene from The Exterminating Angel. Photo: Tristram Kenton
The Exterminating Angel. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best new opera production

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Llio Evans and Ben Johnson in Iolanthe. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Llio Evans and Ben Johnson in Iolanthe. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Outstanding achievement in opera

Nominees:

• 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.

Goat at Sadler's Wells. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Goat at Sadler’s Wells.
Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best new dance production

Nominees:

• 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.

 


Rocio Molina in Fallen from Heaven. Credit: djfrat
Rocio Molina in Fallen from Heaven. Credit: djfrat

Outstanding achievement in dance

Nominees:

• 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

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