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Speeches: And the Laurence Olivier Winners Said

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Winners for this year's 34th annual Laurence Olivier Awards, London's equivalent of the Tonys and the UK's most prestigious stage awards, are being announced this evening at a star-studded ceremony held at the Grosvenor House, Park Lane. Highlights from the winners’ acceptance speeches – shown in order of announcement - follow. See our other stories for analysis, speech highlights, photos, video and other coverage…



  • Best Lighting Design - Mark Henderson, who beat, amongst others, himself to win for Burnt by the Sun at the National, was away working but, accepting the award on his behalf, Henderson’s wife thanked director Howard Davies and set designer Vicki Mortimer. The award was presented by 80-year-old Billy Elliot star Ann Emery along with four of the youngest boys from the musical. Emery joked: “They wanted Cheryl Cole and Take That, but you’ll have to take this instead.”
  • Best Sound Design - Another winner unable to attend tonight, Spring Awakening’s Brian Ronan, who’s currently in New York collaborating with the same team, sent a representative thanking the whole company and hoping that “this is the first award of many”... He could be right.
  • Best Costume Design - In presenting the award, fashion designer declared Priscilla Queen of the Desert his “favourite”. Australians Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner accepted together. Chappel quoted the inscription above the stage door entrance of the Palace Theatre – that “the world’s greatest artistes have passed through these doors” – and said how proud he was to be counted amongst them. He thanked producer Stephan Elliot for taking them “all on this wild ride”. Gardiner paid tribute to the “army” of dressers and others that kept the costumes in order – “it may look easy, but trust me, it’s a bloody nightmare”. She also thanked director Simon Phillips and the show’s late choreographer Ross Coleman, “rest in peace, I know you’re dancing somewhere”.
  • Best Set Design - Jerusalem’s Ultz said he shared his award with his lighting designer “who made my trees look so interesting”. He recalled that his first professional job was at the Royal Court, as a follow-spot operator, and thanked everyone there, particular Jerusalem director and former Court artistic director Ian Rickson “for all his support over the years and for his belief in me”.
  • Best New Comedy - “I feel like I’m having a stroke,” worried The Priory author Michael Wynne, who also thanked “everyone at the Royal Court” and his cast, including Best Supporting Actress nominee Rachael Stirling, who he felt was mistreated with a very unflattering photo in the Olivier programme. He thanked current artistic director Dominic Cooke “who has been so supportive of me for years” and his family “who watching on a laptop in Birkenhead”.
  • Best Theatre Choreographer - Stephen Mear, who won for Hello, Dolly! confessed “I’m trying not to be too nervous or my voice will go too high”. He thanked Open Air artistic director and the show’s star Samantha Spiro, before concluding “I really love what I do so much and this makes it worth every second”.

  • Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre - Leaving the Cock jokes aside, Mike Bartlett continued the Royal Court praise, noting how brilliant the theatre is at giving “playwrights driving vans” huge support and brilliant productions. To make the point, he brought three members of his production team on stage with him, including director James Macdonald.

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Ruth Wilson revealed that she’d made a pact with her friend and fellow nominee Hayley Atwell (for A View from the Bridge) to share the prize should either of them win, and said she’d take the head and give the base to Atwell. She also revealed that her first time working with her Streetcar co-star Rachel Weisz was on the film The Constant Gardener - on which she acted as her stand-in! Wilson said it was a thrill to work on this “most extraordinary play and to not be a stand-in but to be opposite” Weisz and Elliot Cowan.
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Eddie Redmayne couldn’t collect his award for Red in person as he’s on stage tonight in the same play, which has now transferred to Broadway. However, he sent a note with Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage, just back from New York, saying that he was “massively proud to be nominated”. Redmayne thanked Grandage for casting him in the play about painter Mark Rothko despite his “slightly calamitous blue/green colour blindness” and lauded his co-star Alfred Molina, “what an extraordinary actor, man and friend ... I am fantastically lucky to work with him and to learn from him”.
  • Best Actress - Continuing the Donmar’s pre-dinner roll, A Streetcar Named Desire’s Rachel Weisz said “I never thought I’d be holding one of these in my lifetime” and especially in a “prestigious company” of fellow nominees from whom she’d seen “masterclasses” in acting. And to win? “As my mother would say, the wrapping paper alone would have been enough.” She credited her “once stand-in and now Olivier Award-winning actress” Wilson but said, “most of all, this is for Blanche Dubois – I love her – and Tennessee (Mr Williams, that is) and all the other messed-up, genius poets out there”.
  • Best Actor - Accepting his third Best Actor gong for Jerusalem, Mark Rylance said it was “overwhelming” to be nominated alongside James Earl Jones and joked about being “up against” Jude Law (“I don’t know what that’s like, I’m sure it’s very nice”). As for winning himself, he insisted “it’s not very much to do with me” (which elicited ahh’s from the crowd which he mimicked), but said anyone would be nominated if they had the “good fortune” of being able to speak Jez Butterworth’s words, be directed by Ian Rickson and be on stage with Mackenzie Crook. He honoured Rickson and “all directors” for the long and often unpaid work they put into new play development.
  • Audience Award for Most Popular Show - Wicked producer Michael McCabe introduced his new Elphaba and Glinda, Rachel Tucker and Louise Dearman, to collect the prize and marvelled that “general elections have been fought with marginally less gusto than this award” which attracted 58,000 votes.
  • (Dinner break.)

  • Best Revival - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’s American producer Stephen Byrd said “thank you so much, London” with a particular huge big thank you to the audiences who have supported us”. He marvelled at the fact that “we are holding an Olivier and that Lord Olivier himself once played Big Daddy ... it validates our vision” for Debbie Allen’s all-black production of the Tennessee Williams’ classic. Byrd thanked Allen and “our incredible cast who each and every performance give nothing but 100% - thank you for the phenomenal job that you continue to do”.
  • Best Supporting Role in a Musical - “This is amazing!” exclaimed Spring Awakening's Iwan Rheon, thanking “everyone who was involved” in the London production of the alt-rock musical and, “most of all, my family and friends who have supported me all the way”. (If you speak Welsh and know his final words, let us know!)
  • Best Actress in a Musical - Samantha Spiro was still short of breath from the Hello, Dolly! company performance when she came back to the stage to collect her gong. She recollected a childhood visit to the Open Air and being so “enthralled by Androcles and the Lion that I decided I really wanted to be an actor”. She said she was “absolutely delighted to complete the circle”. She paid tribute to her “most awesomely talented company” with particular thanks for Josefina Gabrielle, Alan Fortune and Daniel Crossley for “making my job easy for being able to bounce off your brilliance”. As for choreographer Stephen Mear, she said she wanted to bottle him just so she “could have a little spritz of Stephen Mear every morning”.
  • Best Actor in a Musical - Following so soon after his former Spring Awakening co-star, Aneurin Barnard noted the significance of “two Welsh boys in their early 20s win an Olivier on one night”. He remember that it was his coal-mining grandfather who first explained to him the significance of these awards and, now, “to stand here holding this takes the words right out of your mouth”. After thanking others, he concluded “Ma, Dad, I’m here!”
  • Best Entertainment - Playwright Tim Whitnall joked that his competitor “Derren Brown did predict that Morecambe would win so thank you, Derren”. He went on to credit director Guy Masterson who “gave us all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order” and star Bob Golding who “has achieved one of the greatest performances I have ever seen in the West End”. But finally, it was “to Eric and Ernie that I dedicate our success”.
  • Best Musical Revival - Open Air artistic director and Hello, Dolly! director Timothy Sheader and producer William Village accepted on behalf of Samantha Spiro and the musical creative team, cast and crew. Sheader extended “a special thank-you, respect and admiration for the ladies and gentlemen of the ensemble. The ensemble are the nerve and pulse of any musical and this particular ensemble were an amazing life force on stage and in the rehearsal room”.
  • SOLT Special Award for Outstanding Achievement - Playwright Tom Stoppard introduced veteran West End producer of 54 years, Michael Codron, who has so far mounted some 134 plays in his career, including many by Stoppard and other leading dramatists such as Ayckbourn, Bennett, Frayn, Hampton and Pinter (one of his first productions being The Birthday Party). In accepting Codron in turn referenced Stoppard speeches from The Real Thing and thought it timely that this award comes just before the play is revived at the Old Vic. He admitted that he has a reputation for not turning up to events and that other SOLT members had been taking bets on him showing tonight – he said he was glad that he had and was touched to “share the bill” with Dame Maggie Smith, the recipient of this year’s second Special Award. He remarked that he’d been lucky with timing to start producing when he did as the West End landscape has changed so much since and it is now “much tougher for new productions to put on work ... so I salute those new producers”.
  • Best New Play - Katori Hall was tonight’s biggest surprise winner for her UK playwriting debut with The Mountaintop and she also gave one of the most surprising – and longest – speeches, which started with “Wow! ... That was Jude Law”, who presented her with her gong. She continued: “I thought because I was an American and (the play) was about an American hero, no one here would want to hear it over here. But I was proved wrong.” She thanked London for “teaching me that this is a story that has to be told around the world”. She also thanked Martin Luther King and her mother, whose regret at not hearing King speak before he died provided inspiration for the play. Others mentioned by Hall included Theatre503, West End producer Sonia Friedman (“who has the biggest balls of anyone I have ever met in my life”), stars David Harewood and Lorraine Burroughs (“Keira Knightley, you got to watch out, she is on your heels, honey”) and her father (who taught her “’can’t’ does not exist for you, it does not exist”). She was joined on stage by Harewood, Burroughs and director James Dacre.
  • Best Director - “I’m really thrilled we’ve won something,” Enron's Rupert Goold said in collecting one of the evening’s final prizes, “because we had such amazing fun putting Enron on ... (and) fun is what it’s all about ... certainly that’s why I do it.” He thanked his staff at Headlong, particular Ben Power who commissioned the play. He also commended author Lucy Prebble, who has “two great gifts: impeccable taste and courage”. The other woman he thanked was his wife, actress Kate Fleetwood, “who’s spent two years married to a Blackberry. I hope this is some proof that I wasn’t having an affair. I’ll stop now and be with you,” he promised.
  • Best New Musical - Four producers took to the stage along with Spring Awakening co-creator Steven Sater. Matthew Byam-Shaw thanked their partners at Lyric Hammersmith, their backers “who had a very very tough time but who remained honourable and steadfast throughout” and their “brilliantly talented young cast”. An emotional Sater said this was “the proudest moment of my life. As a young boy, my dream was always to come do my plays in London.” He and his collaborator Duncan Sheik wanted “to address that wound” of being young with their musical and he was moved by witnessing the “many young people whose lives we’ve touched”. He regretted that their dream that “was realised so beautifully passed so quickly”, but said the Olivier was “a memorial for the work we all did and a reminder” of how beautiful it was.
  • Special Award - Margaret Tyzack presented her former Lettice and Lovage co-star, and “one of the most respected actresses of our time”, Dame Maggie Smith, with the evening’s second Special Award. Despite her success and fame, Smith has never previously won an Olivier, which was how she started her acceptance. “I’ve been nominated a few time and the fact that I never got it I thought was Larry’s revenge, but Lady Olivier assured me that it was not so.” She said she had been in the game a long time because she’d actually seen The Mousetrap in its pre-London run. “Look at him,” she said, regarding the statue of Olivier in her hand, “he still looks cross – he didn’t always look like that.” She finished by telling an anecdote of Vincent Price in which he signed autographs in the name of a late actress who asked him not to let people forget her – and then gave permission to all in the audience to “sign my autography any time”.
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