All My Sons, Merrily & Stones Win Big at OliviersDate: 23 February 2001
It has become almost a tradition at the annual Laurence Olivier awards that, of all the big winners, the National Theatre should win biggest. And, despite recent carping about failed productions and artistic director Trevor Nunn’s leadership, this year – the awards’ 25th – was no exception, with the National scooping a total of eight awards, four of which were for its acclaimed revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons.
In fact, All My Sons surpassed all other productions with its number of wins, although the Donmar Warehouse’s Merrily We Roll Along, with three wins, came close. In addition to pure numbers of statuettes, both productions claimed victories in some of the biggest categories.
All My Sons achieved a Best Actress award for Julie Walters, Best Supporting Actor for Ben Daniels and Best Director for Howard Davies as well as a Best Set Designer award for William Dudley. On accepting his award, Davies explained how the cast had grown to love Miller’s script, which he described as “muscular, political and passionate…all you could want for in good writing”.
Merrily meanwhile captured the major musical honours including Best Actress in a Musical for Samantha Spiro, Best Actor in a Musical for Daniel Evans and Best New Musical. The principals from the cast – Spiro and Evans along with co-star Julian Ovenden – took to the stage together to accept the last and read from “a fax from God himself”, composer Stephen Sondheim, who wrote that he wished “I was there to glow in person”. Evans also quipped how thrilled he was to “be a part of what must be the longest creative process in history”. Originally staged in the US in the 1980s, he said it had “only” taken 17 years for Merrily We Roll Along to be voted Best New Musical.
Three awards, two of them for the hit Irish two-hander Stones in His Pockets, were presented as surprises on location, in advance of today’s ceremony. Author Marie Jones accepted the award for Best New Comedy at last night’s performance of the play, gripping the statuette and beaming that “now we have a family heirloom for our children to fight over”.
Original West End stars fellow Best Actor award contenders Conleth Hill and Sean Campion, currently on tour in Toronto prior to a Broadway season, appeared via video link during which Campion presented the award to a shocked Hill, who believed they were filming a promotional video. Hill, who made his West End debut in the play, confessed that he was “absolutely gobsmacked” and went on to say that “the thing that pleasures me most is knowing that so many of you (in the audience) are going who the f*** is that?”
Outstanding Musical Production went to the West Yorkshire Playhouse production, transplanted to the National’s Olivier for two seasons, of Singin in the Rain. Jude Kelly, artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, accepted the award and thanked “Trevor Nunn for having faith in the work that regional theatre does all over Britain”.
Despite all the hype around the major theatre-related awards, it was undoubtedly the acceptance speeches from the winners of the two dance categories who stole the show at the ceremony itself. Brazilian Deborah Colker, who won Outstanding Achievement in Dance for Mix, knelt on the stage and said a prayer before going on to thank her country and her five dogs. Meanwhile, the French Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu, who won Best New Dance Production for Le Jardin IO IO ITO came onto the stage with a bottle of water and proceeded to, literally, gargle their acceptance speech.
Whatsonstage.com users, who voted in thousands in our online poll, matched the Olivier judges’ decisions in an impressive nine major categories. To see the full list of this year’s nominees, click here.
The 25th annual Olivier Awards ceremony will be televised on BBC2 tomorrow, Saturday, 24 February at 7.55pm in a star-studded programme that will combine the awards presentation with highlights of the past year in London theatre. This is the first time the ceremony will be shown on a Saturday night.
The full list of 2001 winners is as follows:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
BEST NEW PLAY
- BlueOrange at the Cottesloe
BEST NEW COMEDY
- Stones in His Pockets at the New Ambassadors then Duke of York's
BEST NEW MUSICAL
- Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar Warehouse
OUTSTANDING MUSICAL PRODUCTION
- Singin' in the Rain at the Olivier
BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL
BEST THEATRE CHOREOGRAPHER
BEST SET DESIGNER
BEST LIGHTING DESIGNER
BEST COSTUME DESIGNER
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA
BEST NEW OPERA PRODUCTION
- The Royal Opera's The Greek Passion at the Royal Opera House
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE
- Deborah Colker for her choreography of Mix at the Barbican
BEST NEW DANCE PRODUCTION
- Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu's Le Jardin Io Io Ito Ito at the Barbican