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NT Scoops Seven Oliviers, Blonde & Sondheim

The National Theatre and Legally Blonde the Musical were among the big winners at the 2011 Olivier Awards, announced this evening (13 March 2011) in a star-studded ceremony at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

In the musicals categories, Legally Blonde was named Best New Musical, with Sheridan Smith collecting the Best Actress in a Musical Award for her performance as Elle Woods and Jill Halfpenny picking up the award for and Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

The National Theatre picked up seven awards for two productions, with Nancy Carroll and Adrian Scarborough winning Best Actress and Best Actor in a Supporting Role respectively for their roles in Thea Sharrock’s acclaimed revival of After the Dance (although leading actor Benedict Cumberbatch wasn’t nominated). And Howard Davies was named Best Director for The White Guard, which also won for Best Lighting (Neil Austin) and Set Design (Bunny Christie).

In the closely-fought Best Actor category Roger Allam beat off favourites Rory Kinnear (nominated for Hamlet) and last year’s winner Derek Jacobi (nominated for King Lear) for his turn as Falstaff in the Globe’s productions of Henry IV parts I & II.

Other acting awards went to Michelle Terry (Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Tribes) and David Thaxton (Best Actor in a Musical for Passion).

Elsewhere, OperaUpClose and Soho Theatre’s innovative fringe production of Pucinni’s La Boheme beat off competition from the Royal Opera House and English National Opera to be named Best New Opera Production. Robin Norton-Hale’s production, which premiered at the Cock Tavern Theatre in Kilburn before transferring to the Soho Theatre, adds to its haul having won Best Off-West End production at last month’s Whatsonstage.com Awards.

Other popular winners included the Open Air Theatre revival of Sondheim's Into the Woods, which won Best Musical Revival; We Will Rock You which took home the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award (voted for by the public); York Theatre Royal's large-scale adaptation of The Railway Children, which transferred to the former Eurostar terminal in Waterloo and was named Best Entertainment; and the Lyric Hammersmith's revival of Sarah Kane's Blasted, which won the Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre award.

The Royal Court picked up three awards, including Best New Play went for Bruce NorrisClybourne Park, which transferred to the West End following a sell-out run last year. Other Royal Court wins include Michelle Terry as the Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Tribes and Leon Baugh as the Best Theatre Choreographer for his work on Sucker Punch.

Among the productions that went home empty handed was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom follow-up Love Never Dies, which failed to convert any of its seven nominations. 

From Manilow to Sondheim

Performances on the evening included "Copacobana" by Barry Manilow and "Look to the Rainbow" as a duet with West End leading lady, Kerry Ellis. Alfie Boe performed "Some Enchanted Evening" and, as a special tribute to celebrate 25 years of The Phantom of the Opera, Sierra Boggess and John Owen Jones performed the title song.

The Society of London Theatre’s Special Award was presented by Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Angela Lansbury, who flew into London especially for the occasion, to legendary American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim.

The finale of the evening was a tribute to Sondheim featuring Lansbury and Adrian Lester, who were joined by a cast of 360 students from accredited national drama schools performing "Our Time", with solo performances by Oliver Eyre, Alex Young and Fra Fee.

For the first time this year the Olivier Awards, sponsored by MasterCard, were broadcast live on both BBC TV, via the red button, and BBC Radio 2, with coverage of the red carpet and a special review programme on BBC TV News.

Check back for further coverage from Whatsonstage.com at the Oliviers including photos from the red carpet and press room...


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