Marianne Elliott said she feels “a wind of change [is] blowing through the industry” around female-led stories, as her gender-swapped version of Company took home four Olivier awards at this year’s ceremony.
The production starred Rosalie Craig in the traditionally male lead role, with the genders of several other characters in Stephen Sondheim’s musical also changed for Elliott’s 2018 version.
Picking up the award for best musical revival with her producing partner Chris Harper, Elliott said: “When we had this crazy notion of setting up our own theatre company about three years ago we decided our main goal was to put female stories front and centre on our stages… We felt there was a wind of change blowing through the industry, where celebrating female stories was not only possible, but absolutely vital. The most outstanding thing about doing this show was that our audience seemed to believe that too.
“This beloved, well-trodden, well-loved musical was a bit of a risk to do in this way, at this scale, straight in to the West End, but it was what we were about so we really wanted to do it.”
She went on to thank Sondheim for allowing her to “meddle” with Company, and who she said “believes that theatre could change and evolve and should be of and for the times”.
Elliott lost out on the best director award to Stephen Daldry for The Inheritance, however Company took home the joint highest number of accolades – four – with wins for set designer Bunny Christie and performers Patti LuPone and Jonathan Bailey.
Bailey appeared in the show as Jamie, a character that had originally been written as female, however the gender swap meant the show included a gay relationship.
Collecting his award, Bailey said: “This has been a life-changing experience for me. At a time when acknowledging the very existence of LGBT+ people in our schools is being questioned, we’ve been able to show a lovely and celebratory snapshot of gay love, that LGBT+ people aren’t that different. We’re just as anxious, we’re just as flawed and desperate to fall in love as everyone else, so thank you.”