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2022 Olivier Awards: predicting the nominees

Some thoughts ahead of next Tuesday's announcements

Some of those mentioned on the list

This might be slightly masochistic of me, given I'm setting ourselves up to fail, but I thought it'd be worth making some pithy remarks about what might end up leading the pack. To see whether any of this holds water, We'll have all the latest news and opinions from 5pm on 8 March!

Expect the unexpected

More of an observation than a prediction – it's been two years since the last Oliviers, which means a shed ton of nominees – Be More Chill, The Prince of Egypt and Pretty Woman are eligible this time around. With that in mind, we wouldn't be surprised if the awards bolstered the maximum number of nominees to reflect the larger pool – otherwise, there might be some eyebrow-raising upsets.

A perfectly marvellous time for the Kit Kat Club

Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley
© Marc Brenner

Two big stars, a lot of producers, an award-winning director highly sought after on both sides of the Atlantic, shed tons of five stars – Cabaret has so much going for it – from Tom Scutt's mighty transformation of an entire venue through to its Oscar-courting leads in the form of Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley. If this isn't the big winner on Tuesday I'll eat my party hat.

Play revivals

Slimmer pickings this time around – but it could well be the Almeida's Macbeth, a bonafide smash from director Yaël Farber, coming in with the most clout. But you can't discount the National's two well-received revivals – Under Milk Wood and The Normal Heart – as well as the Young Vic's Hamlet, led by one Cush Jumbo (surely a guaranteed nomination for a leading performance nod).

The stars will be out in force

Buckley, Redmayne, Jumbo, Saoirse Ronan, Michael Sheen, Sutton Foster, Ben Daniels, James McArdle, Beverley Knight, David Harewood, Paapa Essiedu, Lennie James – so many darn stars – and that's without listing all those who appeared in Constellations! It'd be lovely to see some emerging talent – Pi's Hiran Abeysekera, Spring Awakening's Amara Okereke, Gabrielle Brooks for Get Up, Stand Up! or Back to the Future's Hugh Coles for example – nestled alongside the existing greats.

Amara Okereke
© Marc Brenner

The play's the thing

Going by our chief critic Sarah's top shows of 2021, the show to beat here is James Graham's stand-out Best of Enemies – expect a return being announced soon. Comedy hit Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) may find its way into an alternative category, but wouldn't it also be brilliant to see Jack Holden's Cruise recognised. Other great plays include the Re:Emerge season, as well as ...and Breathe at the Almeida, or Life of Pi – more on that below.

Hiran Abeysekera (Pi)
© Johan Persson

Let's talk about sets

Scutt has a lot of competition in the design department – namely WOSAward winner Christopher Oram with his space-defying ice bridge in Frozen, through to a spoiler-ific conclusion in Back to the Future. Throw in the incredible achievements at Life of Pi (a boat sinking on stage, a tiger, some amazing rainfall) or the transformation of the Piccadilly for Moulin Rouge! and you already have quite a crammed category.

New musicals galore

Deep breath – The Drifters Girl, Lloyd Webber's Cinderella, Egypt, Pretty Woman, Back to the Future, Frozen, Get Up, Stand Up!, Be More Chill, Moulin – it's been a busy year for fresh musicals. Of those, only two (Cinderella, Chill) are completely original and not either jukebox-y or based on existing movies, but you never know which way the Olivier voters might swing. Of those listed, only one – Moulin has won out on Broadway – could London repeat the events of Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton or The Book of Mormon and recognise New York hits? Or will it be another In the Heights or Fun Home...

The company of Moulin Rouge!
(© Matt Crockett)

The musical revival category is crammed

Cabaret, Carousel, Anything Goes, Spring Awakening, maybe even Hairspray – it's also a densely packed season for revivals. Of those listed, any has a very strong chance of winning – though the continuing Cabaret adulation may see it through. This is all a shame – it might give much-loved shows like The Last Five Years (a personal fave – showing an emerging production, creative and casting team at the top of their game), that had smaller runs, less of a chance of getting into the fold.