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Olivier Awards 2017 predictions: Who’s tipped for a gong?

Noma Dumezweni, Paul Thornley and Jamie Parker in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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Mark Shenton’s forecasts

Mark is associate editor of The Stage, as well as joint lead critic. He has written regularly for The Stage since 2005.

Andy Karl in Groundhog Day. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Best new musical 

Nominees:

• Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre

• The Girls at the Phoenix Theatre

• Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

• School of Rock the Musical at the New London Theatre

Should win: Groundhog Day
Will win: School of Rock
Why? Dreamgirls famously lost out on the Tony for best musical (to Nine) in 1982. It’s hardly a new musical now, though in the West End for the first time. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock is a warm-hearted, gentle rock pastiche, and, though undoubtedly retro in feeling, will probably win. My vote goes to Groundhog Day for originality and surprise. It opens on Broadway on April 17.


Sheridan Smith i Funny Girl. Photo: Johan Persson

Best musical revival 

Nominees:

• Funny Girl at the Savoy Theatre

• Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

• Show Boat at the New London Theatre

• Sunset Boulevard at the London Coliseum

Should win: Show Boat
Will win: Jesus Christ Superstar
Why? Andrew Lloyd Webber has been king of the West End musical since the record-breaking run of Jesus Christ Superstar started in 1972. His nominations this year include a new show and two revivals, including JCS, which will take the award for the breathtaking energy of its revival. But the sadly underperforming transfer of Show Boat from Sheffield was one of the year’s most beautiful shows.


The Comedy About a Bank Robbery. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best new comedy

Nominees:

• The Comedy About a Bank Robbery at the Criterion Theatre

• Nice Fish at Harold Pinter Theatre

• Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the Dorfman, National Theatre

• The Truth at Wyndham’s Theatre

Should win: The Comedy About a Bank Robbery
Will win: The Comedy About a Bank Robbery
Why? Mischief Theatre, the company formed by ex-LAMDA students, has become one of the West End’s biggest success stories, with its first show The Play That Goes Wrong opening last weekend on Broadway, while continuing in its third year in the West End. With the return of Peter Pan Goes Wrong last Christmas (also on TV) and new arrival The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, it had three shows playing simultaneously. Bank Robbery will win.


Charlie Stemp in Half a Sixpence. Photo: Micahel Le Poer Trench

Best actor in a musical 

Nominees:

• David Fynn for School of Rock the Musical at the New London Theatre

• Tyrone Huntley for Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

• Andy Karl for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

• Charlie Stemp for Half a Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre

Should win: Charlie Stemp
Will win: Charlie Stemp
Why? A very hard category to call, with four virtuoso performances that all deserve recognition. But youth will win: Charlie Stemp, who is just 23, will take the award for a sensational West End debut that looks as effortless as it is lovable. Andy Karl seems to work harder but is also brilliant in Groundhog Day (which he is now reprising on Broadway), as is David Fynn in School of Rock. Tyrone Huntley – already the winner of an Evening Standard award for emerging talent – sang Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar with fierce commitment.


Amger Riley in Dreamgirls. Photo: Brinkhoff Mogenburg

Best actress in a musical

Nominees:

• Glenn Close for Sunset Boulevard at the London Coliseum

• Debbie Chazen, Sophie-Louise Dann, Michele Dotrice, Claire Machin, Claire Moore and Joanna Riding for The Girls at the Phoenix Theatre

• Amber Riley for Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre

• Sheridan Smith for Funny Girl at the Savoy Theatre

Should win: Sheridan Smith
Will win: Amber Riley
Why? The Savoy is a charmed address for leading musical ladies: Sheridan Smith previously won an Olivier for Legally Blonde there and is nominated this year for Funny Girl, which she is now reprising on tour. Last year’s winner was Imelda Staunton for Gypsy, which also played at the Savoy. But the win this year will go to Amber Riley for her astonishing turn as Effie White in Dreamgirls.


Ben Hunter in The Girls. Photo: Matt Crockett/Dewynters

Best actor in a supporting role in a musical

Nominees:

• Ian Bartholomew for Half a Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre

• Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre

• Ben Hunter for The Girls at the Phoenix Theatre

• Andrew Langtree for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

Should win: Andrew Langtree
Will win: Ian Bartholomew
Why? Andrew Langtree deserves recognition for his supporting work in shows from Ghost to this year’s Groundhog Day. But veteran Ian Bartholomew, nominated for best actor in a musical for Mrs Henderson Presents last year, will this year pick up the supporting award for Half a Sixpence at the same theatre.


Rebecca Trehearn in Show Boat. Photo: Johan Persson

Best actress in a supporting role in a musical

Nominees:

• Haydn Gwynne for The Threepenny Opera at the Olivier, National Theatre

• Victoria Hamilton-Barritt for Murder Ballad at the Arts Theatre

• Rebecca Trehearn for Show Boat at the New London Theatre

• Emma Williams for Half A Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre

Should win: Rebecca Trehearn
Will win: Emma Williams
Why? I’m counting on a lot of voter love for Half a Sixpence, even if the nominators couldn’t decide whether it was a new musical or a revival and so nominated it for neither. Emma Williams, in her fourth Olivier nomination, will win at last, though the amazing Rebecca Trehearn (who once understudied Williams in Love Story) gave a heartbreakingly good performance in the transfer of Sheffield’s production of Show Boat.


Natasha Tripney’s forecasts

Natasha is The Stage’s reviews editor and joint lead critic.

Sope Dirisu in One Night in Miami… Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best new play

Nominees:

• Elegy at Donmar Warehouse

• The Flick at the Dorfman, National Theatre

• Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre

• One Night in Miami… at Donmar Warehouse

Should win: One Night in Miami…
Will win: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Why? While all the nominations are well deserved, this category feels rather disconnected from the rest – and the absence of the Royal Court seems odd. Jack Thorne’s role in bringing the world of Harry Potter to the stage is definitely accolade-worthy.


Tom Hollander in Travesties. Photo: Johan persson

Best revival

Nominees:

• The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York’s Theatre

• This House at the Garrick Theatre

• Travesties at the Apollo Theatre

• Yerma at the Young Vic

Should win: The Glass Menagerie
Will win: Travesties
Why? A really tough call. These are all incredibly strong productions, but I think Patrick Marber’s Stoppard revival might win out over John Tiffany’s luminous take on Tennessee Williams.


Cherry Jones in The Glass Menagerie. Photo: Johan Persson

Best director

Nominees:

• Simon Stone for Yerma at the Young Vic

• John Tiffany for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre

• John Tiffany for The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York’s Theatre

• Matthew Warchus for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

Should win: John Tiffany for The Glass Menagerie
Will win: John Tiffany for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Why? No theatre event has come close to Harry Potter, so I expect the nod will go to Tiffany for that rather than his glorious The Glass Menagerie, but it’s a win for him either way.


Jamie Parker in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo: Johan Persson

Best actor

Nominees:

• Ed Harris for Buried Child at Trafalgar Studios 1

• Tom Hollander for Travesties at the Apollo Theatre

• Ian McKellen for No Man’s Land at Wyndham’s Theatre

• Jamie Parker for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre

Should win: Tom Hollander
Will win: Jamie Parker
Why? Tom Hollander’s performance in Stoppard’s intricate Travesties is one of precision and richness, but I suspect Parker will edge it for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.


Glenda Jackson in King Lear. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best actress

Nominees:

• Glenda Jackson for King Lear at the Old Vic

• Cherry Jones for The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York’s Theatre

• Billie Piper for Yerma at the Young Vic

• Ruth Wilson for Hedda Gabler at the Lyttelton, National Theatre

Should win: Glenda Jackson
Will win: Billie Piper
Why? Another tough one. Glenda Jackson’s performance was extraordinary in so many ways, but Billie Piper also gave the performance of her career in Yerma.


Noma Dumezweni in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Best actress in a supporting role

Nominees

• Melissa Allan, Caroline Deyga, Kirsty Findlay, Karen Fishwick, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann, Joanne McGuinness and Dawn Sievewright for Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the Dorfman, National Theatre

• Noma Dumezweni for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre

• Clare Foster for Travesties at the Apollo Theatre

• Kate O’Flynn for The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York’s Theatre

Should win: Kate O’Flynn
Will win: Noma Dumezweni
Why? O’Flynn’s performance was one of radiance and delicacy, but I think the Potter factor will come into play again – that, and the fact that Dumezweni is ace.


Freddie Fox in Travesties. Photo: Johan Persson

Best actor in a supporting role

Nominees:

• Anthony Boyle for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre

• Freddie Fox for Travesties at the Apollo Theatre

• Brian J Smith for The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York’s Theatre

• Rafe Spall for Hedda Gabler at the Lyttelton, National Theatre

Should win: Anthony Boyle
Will win: Anthony Boyle
Why? In a production of the scale of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Anthony Boyle’s performance as Scorpius Malfoy made a lasting impression and marked him out as a name to watch.


George Hall’s forecasts

George writes widely on opera and has contributed regularly to The Stage since 2000

Nicky Spence and Brenda Rae in Lulu. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best new opera production

Nominees:

• 4.48 Psychosis at the Lyric Hammersmith

• Akhnaten at the London Coliseum

• Cosi Fan Tutte at the Royal Opera House

• Lulu at the London Coliseum

Should win: 4.48 Psychosis
Will win: Lulu
Why? Philip Venables’ bold setting of Sarah Kane’s play was the year’s most original new opera. Jan Philipp Gloger’s Royal Opera House staging of Cosi was assured, though far from universally liked. Hopefully heading back to stability, English National Opera made a strong showing with Phelim McDermott’s spectacular staging of Philip Glass’ minimalist epic and William Kentridge’s fascinating visualisation of Berg’s expressionist masterpiece.


Stuart Skelton in Tristan and Isolde. Photo: Catherine Ashmore

Outstanding achievement in opera

Nominees:

• Renee Fleming in Der Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera House

• Stuart Skelton in Tristan and Isolde at the London Coliseum

• Mark Wigglesworth for conducting Don Giovanni and Lulu at the London Coliseum

Should win: Stuart Skelton
Will win: Stuart Skelton
Why? Mark Wigglesworth continued to conduct fine performances even after his premature exit as ENO’s music director, and Renee Fleming’s farewell to the ROH showed her still on top form. But popular Australian Heldentenor Stuart Skelton’s magnificently sung and acted Tristan for ENO was arguably the year’s most exceptional individual performance.


Neil Norman’s forecasts

Neil is a playwright and critic. He is a longstanding contributor of dance reviews to The Stage

Zenaida Yanowsky and Carlos Acosta in Elizabeth. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Best new dance production

Nominees:

• Betroffenheit at Sadler’s Wells

• Coal at the Place

• Elizabeth at the Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House

• Broken Wings at Sadler’s Wells

Should win: Betroffenheit
Will win: Betroffenheit
Why? Each nominee deserves recognition, but choreographer Crystal Pite and performer Jonathon Young’s exploration of unimaginable grief brings a new dimension to dance theatre that leaves scars on the soul. Young performs his own story with the members of Pite’s Kidd Pivot company with a courage that defies belief.


Outstanding achievement in dance

Tamara Rojo. Photo: Johan Persson

Nominees:

• Tamara Rojo at English National Ballet

• Francesca Hayward at the Royal Ballet

• Wayne McGregor for Obsidian Tear

• Zenaida Yanowsky for Elizabeth with the Royal Ballet

Should win: Zenaida Yanowsky
Will win: Tamara Rojo
Why? Now on the verge of retirement, Yanowsky leaves a legacy of extraordinarily distinguished work at the Royal Ballet, including her vivid and moving performance as Elizabeth I in Will Tuckett’s alert and intelligent ballet about the Virgin Queen. Technically brilliant, Yanowsky brings an actor’s characterisation and depth of emotion to every role she dances.

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