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Speeches: And the Laurence Olivier Winners Said

Winners for this year's 32nd annual Laurence Olivier Awards, London's equivalent of the Tonys and the UK's most prestigious stage awards, were 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 and other coverage…



  • Best Lighting Design & Best Sound Design (presented by Darius Danesh & Ryan Molloy) - “I’ve been nominated several times before and was beginning to feel like always the bridesmaid”, said Howard Harrison when collecting his Lighting Design trophy for MACBETH. Jocelyn Pook (music) thanked director “Marianne Elliott for allowing the music and the sound to have so much freedom to work together” in SAINT JOAN. Paul Arditti went on to thank the “National Theatre for being such fantastic employers and for giving us such a fantastic place to work”.
    • Best Newcomer in a Play (presented by Danny Dyer) - Tom Hiddleston wasn’t alone in his bemusement that he’d been nominated two times over for this new category. He recalled that, after the Olivier shortlists were announced last month, Donmar artistic director pointed him towards a blog that expressed the view that, if Hiddleston had been nominated for Cymbeline early in 2007, “surely by the time he gets to Othello, he’s no longer a newcomer?”
    • Best Costume Design & Best Set Design (presented by Kelly Osbourne & Dan Stevens) - THE MAN OF MODE’s Best Costume Design winner Vicki Mortimer kept it short and sweet, thanking “all of my colleagues at the National and to Nick (Hytner) for inviting me to design the production”. Rae Smith collected the Best Design for WAR HORSE on behalf of herself and Handspring Puppet Company’s Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, who “send their love” from South Africa. She also thanked NT artistic director Hytner as well as “our wonderful company, the puppeteers” and author “Michael Morpurgo, whose gentle heart was the focus of our creative process in making this show”.
    • Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre & Best Performance in a Supporting Role (presented by Olivia Williams & Carey Mulligan) – Director Bijan Sheibani, head of ATC which co-produced GONE TOO FAR with the Royal Court, said the Outstanding Achievement award was fantastic because “it’s for everyone involved” including young debut playwright Bola Agbaje, who erupted in giggles when she interjected her thanks. “Oh, oh… bums” was the start of Rory Kinnear’s acceptance speech for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for THE MAN OF MODE. No award should be necessary since “I got to show off and maintain that I was serving the text”. He thanked Vicki Mortimer and Nicholas Hytner for “making me look so good” and took the opportunity to “suck up for better Christmas presents” for also acknowledging his family and girlfriend.
    • Best Actor & Best Actress (presented by Indira Varma & Douglas Henshall) – Best Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor said he was “honoured and humbled to stand before you today and receive this”. He thanked the Donmar for making the process of working on such a “complex” play so “simple” and joyous, and commended Michael Grandage for being such an “extraordinary director … clear, precise and fun”. Ejiofor dedicated his award to former National Youth Theatre director Edward Wilson, who died last month and with whom the actor first played Othello as a teenager. He credited Wilson with instilling him with a love and passion for theatre: “this award is testament to him, his dedication, his love and his legacy”.

      Kristin Scott Thomas won Best Actress for THE SEAGULL, in which she appeared with Ejiofor at the start of last year. Beaming widely, she noted that “it seems really unfair to play a role Irina Arkadina and then get an award for it. I can’t wait until September when we all get to do it again (in New York).” She also thanked her children and said she wouldn’t have been able to do Arkadina justice if it hadn’t been for her experience raising them. “I’ve been practicing for this role all their lives.”

    • Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical & Best Theatre Choreographer (presented by Lesley Garrett & Julian Ovenden) – Tracie Bennett was seriously shocked when she won the Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical prize for HAIRSPRAY, because one of the judging panel had warned her that she wouldn’t win. “Fuck you!” she told them from the stage for duping her. In the evening’s longest speech, Bennett thanked variously the “best band in London”, director Jack O’Brien for “rolling his eyes in rehearsal” at her mistakes and the casting director who keeps casting her in musicals even though “I’m not a singer”. She also paid lavish tribute to her fellow nominee, Parade’s Shaun Escoffery: “if I could share this with you, mate, I would because you’re fabulous!”

      Collecting the Best Theatre Choreographer for WAR HORSE, Toby Sedgwick neighed loudly into the microphone before translating “that’s thank you very much in horse”. He brayed and twitched in equine fashion throughout his speech and also thanked “two horses that I used to go out and study every day” and particularly one called Tonka who he’d film himself riding while working on the stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel.

    • Best Actress in a Musical & Best Actor in a Musical (presented by Jeff Goldblum & Barbara Windsor) - HAIRSPRAY’s emotional and breathless Leanne Jones thanked “everybody for being so supportive. This is what I’ve dreamed of this my whole life”. She also congratulated and thanked her three fellow nominees, revealing “we were going to go out for a cocktail and a boogie so I hope we still do that”. Jones’ co-star, and stage mother, Michael Ball was relieved to collect his award, having sat through “the longest night of my life” before hearing his named called out, also remarked on the “esteemed company” with whom he was competing. He went on to say: “One of the best things about doing Hairspray is watching the Shaftesbury Theatre come to back to life. The last hit they had was Hair - it’s kind of quirky, that.” Ball described Hairspray as “musical theatre perfection” and said he had “never known a happier company”.
    • Best Revival & Best Musical Revival (presented by Tamsin Greig & Denise Welch) – Director Marianne Elliott collected the Best Revival trophy for SAINT JOAN, which she remembered as “one of those experiences that you kind of dream about. Nobody at the National Theatre looked at me like I was mad and I kept expecting them to.” The award, she continued, was for George Bernard Shaw, “who gave us more than enough words” and for title star Anne-Marie Duff – “I kept watching her in rehearsals and thinking, I don’t know what you’re doing but keep doing it, you’re wonderful”.

      The most rapturous response to an award announcement was Best Musical Revival. When THE MAGIC FLUTE - IMPEMPE YOMLINGO was named, the 35-strong company – who had earlier performed and were watching from the balcony above the ballroom – broke spontaneously into ecstatic applause and song. “You can see what it’s been like rehearsing this,” declared their director Mark Dornford-May from the stage. Leading lady Pauline Malefane, having danced up the stairs, sang her thanks too, accompanied again by the company from above.

    • Best New Play & Best New Comedy (presented by Pauline Collins & Bill Bailey) – Complicite producer Judith Dimant was joined by A DISAPPEARING NUMBER’s leading lady Saskia Reeves to accept the award for Best New Play on behalf of artistic director Simon McBurney. “This was the longest, hardest play that we ever made and this is the most wonderful recognition,” said Dimant, while Reeves added that she was particularly pleased that the award was for a devised piece. Director Nicholas Hytner accepted Best New Comedy for RAFTA RAFTA on behalf of author Ayub Khan-Din. Hytner said Khan-Din would want to thank Harish Patel, Meera Syal and the rest of the company. “I have no idea if he’d like to thank the director, but I’d like to thank him for revealing that Indian families are indistinguishable from Jewish families.”
    • Best Director (presented by Kevin Spacey) – In addition to the cast and producers, MACBETH’s Best Director Rupert Goold singled out four people to thank: Chichester Festival artistic director Jonathan Church, “he gave me my first job ten years ago and he gave me this job as well”; composer Adam Cork; his wife and Lady Macbeth, “the beautiful and brilliant” Kate Fleetwood, “who set the benchmark so high in rehearsals”; and finally, “the man who got me into theatre, he was there when I met my wife and he’s here tonight, Mr William Shakespeare”.
    • Best New Musical (presented by Alan Dale) – Hairspray’s American creators Mark O’Donnell, Thomas Meehan, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were out in force to collect the trophy for Best New Musical. “To have the experience on Broadway that we had, you never would have thought that could be topped,” said Shaiman, “but you Brits … you just keep making our dreams come true over and over!” Meehan added “there’s no place like London, there’s no theatre like London”. And O’Donnell admitted that he was such an Anglophile growing up in Ohio that “I attempted to talk with a British accent - it’s wonderful to think tonight that in some way my love has been requited.”
    • Special Award (presented by David Frost) – Introducing Lloyd Webber, Frost enumerated the composer/impresario’s many accomplishments to date, including seven Tonys and six Oliviers and, at one time, having five shows running in the West End and four running on Broadway simultaneously. Three stars discovered by Lloyd Webber then sang songs from his shows: Connie Fisher (“Take That Look Off Your Face” from Tell Me on a Sunday), Lee Mead (“Close Every Door to Me”, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and Elena Roger (“As If We Never Said Goodbye”, Sunset Boulevard).

      Andrew Lloyd Webber received this year’s Special Award in the same month as he celebrates his 60th birthday. He marvelled at his lifetime of “luck”. “Since I was a child, I wanted to work in musical theatre and to write musicals … I’ve had the luck throughout my life to do the one thing that I’ve always wanted to do”. He declared that musical theatre today is in “vibrant” good health. “If I’ve been any part of this in any small way, that’s enough for me.” He also thanked several individuals who’d played key parts in his career: Cameron Mackintosh, Trevor Nunn, Hal Prince and the late designer Maria Bjornsen.

      - by Terri Paddock


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