Olivier Awards nominations: shocks, surprises and thrills from yesterday’s news
Newsies – Despite its mammoth opening and humongous set, Newsies only scored a single nomination yesterday – for Matt Cole’s thrilling choreography. In some ways, it’s not surprising – Disney shows often have a tough time at the Oliviers (Frozen‘s ice bridge was also omitted from the shortlist in 2022) but Morgan Large’s mammoth vision of New York was an odd one to be missed.
New musicals – It was interesting to see the Oliviers settle for four nominees this year (sometimes they up it to five, as was the case in 2018 and 2022) and that many running or returning shows were locked out – including Newsies and WOSAward winner Bonnie and Clyde, which have proven big hits for the social media crowd and, arguably, younger generations. That said, there are some excellent, brand-new and original musicals also vying for the win here – so it’s a very dense field.
Emma Corrin – Delivering what was heralded by many as one of the best leading performances of the year, it was interesting to see Emma Corrin omitted from the Oliviers. Whether or not they were eligible/ put themselves forwards may need to be confirmed (especially as they have expressed a desire not to sit in either actor or actress categories) but will tap into a wider conversation around the move towards gender neutral categories. While we’re at it, Patrick Vaill’s absence from Oklahoma! felt very unexpected after his amazing take on Jud Fry.
Mother Goose – Ian McKellen’s panto bonanza was a critical and audience powerhouse over Christmas, so seeing it missing here was a surprise. Possibly the panel were more taken by the Palladium’s whopping great big beanstalk, and didn’t want to overstuff the field with panto.
Affiliate Theatre – Five solid productions once again made the shortlist, but it’s always a bit surprising to see the Affiliate Theatre category avoid recognising musicals in their nominations – only a couple in the last decade or so. Given the emerging hits like Ride and Allegiance, there may have been a nice chance to acknowledge rising musical talent.
Totoro lives it large – Seeing the stage version of My Neighbour Totoro top the bill is an exciting moment – it was a mega win for all involved at the Barbican. Mei Mac getting a leading actress nomination is equally exciting – delivering probably the most convincing performance of a four year-old in theatre history, she also marks a big win for East Asian performer representation in leading categories.
My Son’s An Olivier Award Nominee, but what can you do – Rob Madge’s WOSAward-winning solo show My Son’s A Queer being nominated for Best Entertainment or Comedy (after concocting the piece during lockdowns and now wowing in the West End) feels like a lovely moment for their journey as an artist. As they also appeared in Jack and the Beanstalk, they’re basically going up aagainst themselves…
Rising stars recognised – Beyond Mac, seeing the full cast of For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy pick up a nom was a lovely surprise, as were the nods for Faith Omole, David Moorst, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Anjana Vasan and Maimuna Memon. There’s a lot of brilliant stage talent that is surely set to continue making a big splash in the future.
The National Portfolio in action – Looking through the list, it’s remarkable how many of the shows with the most noms came from venues and/or organisations that were publicly funded – thrilling musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge, Totoro, Tammy Faye, Oklahoma!, The Band’s Visit, Streetcar, The Crucible etc all starting their lives at portfolio organisations. In a year where Arts Council funding became a red-hot topic, this feels incredibly significant.