In a star-studded awards ceremony last night, Sunday 13 March, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London, the Society of London Theatre held their 35th annual theatre awards ceremony.
Hosted by musicals star Michael Ball and actress Imelda Staunton, the awards celebrate the best of the year’s London theatre.
Big winners last night included the National Theatre, which swept up seven awards for two of its productions: Thea Sharrock’s revival of Terence Rattigan’s After the Dance, which won awards including best revival, best actress for Nancy Carroll and best actor in a supporting role for Adrian Scarborough; and its production of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The White Guard, including best director for Howard Davies and best set design for Bunny Christie.
In other subsidised venues the Royal Court picked up three awards, including best new play for Bruce Norris’s comedy Clybourne Park, which is now playing at the Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End, and two awards for the Donmar Warehouse, including David Thaxton picking up best actor in a musical for Passion.
Roger Allam won best actor for his performance as Falstaff in Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, beating stiff competition from Rory Kinnear, Derek Jacobi, David Suchet and Mark Rylance.
The most successful musical of the night was Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre, which picked up three major awards: best new musical, best actress in a musical for Sheridan Smith and best performance in a supporting role in a Musical for Jill Halfpenny.
Other musicals rewarded at the event included We Will Rock You, which won the Olivier Audience Award voted for by members of the theatregoing public, and the Open Air Theatre’s summer production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
Stephen Sondheim was presented with an Olivier Special Award for his enormous contribution to theatre, with the award presented by Sir Cameron Mackintosh and legendary actress Angela Lansbury.
Big shows to miss out on awards this year included Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, which failed to pick up any awards despite seven nominations, and End of the Rainbow at the Trafalgar Studios, which was nominated for four awards including best actress for Tracie Bennett in her performance as Judy Garland.
Notable performances during the ceremony included a star turn by legendary American singer Barry Manilow, who also sang a duet with Wicked and Oliver! star Kerry Ellis; current and former stars of The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies – Ramin Karimloo, John Owen-Jones and Sierra Boggess; Emma Williams and Michael Xavier singing Everything We Know from Love Story; Alfie Boe, who is soon to star in Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre, singing Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific; Susan McFadden and the current cast of Legally Blonde; and Adrian Lester paying tribute to Stephen Sondheim by singing Being Alive from Company, along with Angela Lansbury singing a moving rendition of Liaisons from A Little Night Music and 400 students from national drama schools singing Our Time from Merrily We Roll Along.