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Oliviers Goss: What Was Heard in the Ballroom???

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Here's a round-up of gossip heard by us and others at this year's Olivier Awards, which were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 21 March 2010 (for further Oliviers coverage see whatsonstage.com/oliviers).

  • Although it was no surprise that Mark Rylance added the Best Actor Olivier to his bulging collection, it was a surprise to hear his traditional acceptance speech. Rather than perform a poem or short story, Rylance stunned the Olivier Awards audience by delivering a straightforward, self-effacing speech thanking all those involved in the runaway smash Jerusalem. Rylance insisted “it’s not very much to do with me”, which elicited ahh’s from the illustrious crowd (for full speeches click here). Later in the green room he revealed that the reason he opted to change his usually enigmatic approach to making acceptance speeches was in order "to keep 'em guessing".

  • Following its unexpected triumph last night, The Mountaintop is being hotly tipped to transfer to Broadway, despite the American playwright Katori Hall’s fears that the play would be a "hard sell" in America due to its depiction of Martin Luther King as a foul-mouthed adulterer.

  • According to The Stage, producer Nica Burns has declared 2010 to be the theatrical “year of the black Americans”. The success of the West End “first-timers” - playwright Katori Hall with The Mountaintop and producer Stephen Byrd with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – were cited as “great role models for British youth”. The all-black staging of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof won the prize for Best Revival, the first time a classic has been presented in the West End with an all-black cast.

  • No one was more surprised at The Mountaintop beating Jerusalem and Enron to Best Play that its own producer. Prior to the award announcement, The Mountaintop producer Marla Rubin revealed that, although she was overjoyed at the nomination, she feared “we don’t stand a chance of winning.”

  • A rush of Tweets wondered longingly if Spring Awakening might be revived in the wake of its Olivier success. Its two young Welsh leads, Aneurin Barnard and Iwan Rheon, have been especially celebrated after their double win as Best Actor in a Musical and Best Supporting Performance in a Musical respectively. Despite receiving critical plaudits aplenty, and inspiring a cult youth fandom, the musical failed to survive longer than five weeks in the West End after its transfer from its sold-out Lyric Hammersmith run. Is this speculation purely wishful thinking or could a revival be in the pipeline?

  • Maggie Smith, the recipient of the Special Award, is credited with providing the night’s best one-liner: “Look at him,” she said, regarding the statue of Olivier in her hand, “he still looks cross – he didn’t always look like that.”

  • Cheekiest gag of the night definitely belonged to Mark Rylance, who revealed he had been asked on the red carpet how it felt to be 'up against' Jude Law. "I've no idea what that's like" said Rylance with a smile, "but I'm sure it's very nice".

  • Katori Hall confessed that on hearing of her nomination, she did not know who Laurence Olivier was.

  • After playing Mrs. Alving in Ghosts, and after presenting the award for Best Designer to Ultz for his Royal Court success with Jerusalem, Lesley Sharp revealed that her next role will also be at the Royal Court. Billed as “a tough comedy about addiction”, Ingredient X by Nick Grosso is due to open at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs and runs from the 20 May until the 19 June.

  • On the red carpet, Melanie C was referred to as "sporty spice" by one hapless journo. "Gosh" replied the singer somewhat acerbically, "that makes me feel young". Matters got worse when she revealed her dress was from Victoria Beckham's fashion label, prompting a flood of questions on topics ranging from a Spice Girls reunion to David Beckham's injured leg.

  • Fresh from playing Warner Hungtingdon in Legally Blonde, Duncan James told Broadwayworld.com that he will be leaving the hit show in June. Although the producers had asked him to extend his contract until October, the former Blue heartthrob disclosed that he had “lots of other things” he is working on. However, James did not rule out a return to the role in the future…

  • Keira Knightley's beau Rupert Friend was decidedly out-talked by his hilarious Little Dog Laughed co-star Tamsin Greig whilst presenting the Best Entertainment Award. But he modestly revealed he's well accustomed to playing a supporting role: "I'm very used to standing next to beautiful, talented actresses and not saying anything" he said, to ripples of knowing laughter.

  • Following its success in the Best Revival category, we hear that Broadway import Cat on a Hot Tin Roof may return for a second West End season...
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