Cast members from three of the big musicals in this year’s nominations list performed excerpts from their shows. The cast of The Big Life opened proceedings with a rendition of “Work, Work, Work”, which the show’s resident fan Miss Aphrodite (aka Best Supporting Performance in a Musical nominee Tameka Empson) brought to a close by giving presenter Richard Wilson an amusing lesson in physiotherapy.
On behalf of Guys and Dolls, Jane Krakowski sniffled her way through “Adelaide’s Lament” – shortly before collecting the award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Miss Adelaide in the original cast of the revival at the Piccadilly Theatre – and later, Corey English and Andrew Playfoot sang the title song.
Billy Elliot also had two numbers during the awards ceremony. Ann Emery and Liam Mower performed “Grandma’s Song”. And, just after the show scooped the evening’s final prize for Best New Musical, the ensemble of miners – with their Spitting Image-style puppets of Tory politicians – performed “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher”. After several minutes dancing on their chairs in the audience, various Billy Elliots ran up onto the stage to sing along with their co-stars.
In addition, English National Opera’s William Berger and Sarah-Jane Davies sang, respectively, “Lonely Town” from On the Town and “Servilas Aria” from La Clemenza Di Tito; and illusionist Derren Brown involved the entire audience in a pound coin trick, confounding many including Best Lighting Design winner Paule Constable (Don Carlos) who he hauled on stage as a volunteer.
Amongst the winners who were unable to attend tonight’s ceremony were: Simon Stephens (author of Best New Play On the Shore of the Wide World), Rob Howell (Best Set Design for Hedda Gabler) and Peter Darling (Best Choreographer for Billy Elliot), who are both currently in Toronto working on the world premiere stage adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
The presenters at the 2006 awards were: Alex Kingston, Angela Rippon, Anita Dobson, Catherine Tate, Christian Slater, Dominic Cooke, Jodhi May, Kathleen Turner (the Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? star had to wait several moments for the welcoming applause to subside before she could announce her category), Martin Jarvis, Matthew Modine, Michael Grandage, Michelle Collins, Natascha McElhone, Neve Campbell, Nigel Havers, Paul O'Grady, Piers Morgan, Reece Shearsmith, Richard Olivier, Roger Allam, Sam West and Sir Simon Milton.
In addition to winners and presenters, there were numerous nominees and other celebrity guests in attendance at this year’s Olivier Awards, including: Tracie Bennett, Jorg Betts, Christopher Biggins, Victoria Wood, David Furnish, Lee Hall, David Lan, Nick Moran, Clare Higgins, Laura Wade, Helen McCrory Damian Lewis, Richard Bean, Jenny Eclair, Douglas Hodge, Ewan McGregor, Jenna Russell, Harriet Walter, Guy Henry, Con O’Neill, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Bradley, Anne Reid, Paul Ritter, Peter Quilter, Scarlet Strallen, Sean Foley, Howard Brenton, Lez Brotherston, Brian May, Megan Dodds, Clint Dyer, Rick Fisher, Jamila Gavin, Deborah Findlay, Terry Jardine, Charlotte Jones, James Nesbitt, Owen McCafferty, Conleth Hill, Richard Norton-Taylor, Christopher Oram, Peter Oswald, Graham Sheffield, Ian Talbot, Catherine Tate, David Threlfall, Derek Jacobi, Phyllida Lloyd, Ian MacNeil, Anthony Minghella and Haydn Gwynne.
- by Terri Paddock