The first arrivals, in fact, were Hannah Waddingham's parents from Wandsworth, who apprised me of the distressing information that Hannah is moving to Australia very soon to marry her boyfriend, who has a family out there from his first marriage.
The West End musical theatre is immediately bereft of one of its brightest stars, but Hannah -- who wore a stunning black dress and heels that made her seem eight feet tall -- assures me that she will be back when the right show comes along. Meanwhile, she'll be the first port of call when producers take their biggest musicals Down Under.
Hannah collected her award with due aplomb, bestriding the narrow stage like a goddess colossus, while cheeky Kerry Ellis skipped to attention in sporty black shorts and lacey top outfit and brought the show to a sensational conclusion with Brian May, both of them "Defying Gravity" from Wicked, probably the voters' all-time favourite show.
Josie Rourke brought her dad along, too, even though the poor chap had his arm in a sling. He must be recovering from all the painting and carpentry jobs that Josie assigned him in the old Bush Theatre before she moved the venue round the corner and took off to the Donmar.
Harry Hadden-Paton. so brilliant as Young Marlow in She Stoops To Conquer, brought my conversation with him about his performance in both Flare Path and the Goldsmith comedy to an abrupt halt by telling me that he never reads reviews. Which I always assume to be the case, which is why I sometimes tell an actor how much I've enjoyed a performance. Sometimes, though, as I found to my cost, it's best to say nothing.
The ensemble performance winners, the cast of London Road by Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork, proved their right to the title by sticking together in the bar during the second act of the concert. Kate Fleetwood told me that her husband, director Rupert Goold, had recently celebrated his fortieth birthday by going to Paris and having breakfast with Peter Brook. I imagine that Rupert is seeking the great man's advice on exactly how he should develop his career when, for him at least, the options must seem limitless.
Other bar stars included Michael Ball, slimmed down and bearded, who literally cannot wait to tear into Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi, Danielle Hope, translucently white-skinned and pretty as ever, and playwright April de Angelis with her Jumpy star Tamsin Greig, a still boisterous double act since their hugely enjoyable Royal Court collaboration.
The Royal Shakespeare Company hasn't featured in too many awards ceremonies lately, so it was good to find artistic director Michael Boyd and his executive director, Vikki Heywood, joining in the acclaim for their musical hit Matilda along with composer Tim Minchin and director Matthew Warchus.
Suitably enough, earlier in the afternoon, I had attended a Jewish wedding ceremony upstairs in the Ivy restaurant, where former producer Harvey Kass, lately a lawyer with Associated Newspapers, told me that he was thinking of coming back to the theatre.
I mostly associate him with the great Jackie Mason (half way through his current engagement at Wyndham's but not welcoming the critics until next week) whom he presented in London on his last visit here, but Harvey is dipping his toe in more homegrown waters and should be ready to make an announcement very soon.
The cerememony itself was conducted by a liberal lady rabbi who helpfully explained every step of the service. I felt I had put myself in the mood by catching the Saturday matinee of Travelling Light, Nicholas Wright's new play at the National, in which Antony Sher plays the first ever Harvey Kass, an embryonic movie mogul in a Polish stetl where the first flickering screen images are discovered almost by accident.
It seems quite extraordinarily coincidental that Travelling Light, as well as Singin' in the Rain, are celebrating the birth of the movies along with movies themselves such as Hugo and The Artist. What's going on? Are we entering a phase of needing to reinvent our show business media all over again, make a fresh start?
No wonder that The Wizard of Oz, Shrek and Ghost figured so large in our awards this year. And next year we will probably reconvene to salute The Ladykillers, The King's Speech, Top Hat and, who knows, From Here to Eternity...
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