London Theatre's Complete Guide to the Olivier Awards 2019
The biggest night on the London theatre calendar is upon us: with the nominations announced, it’s time to start preparing for the 2019 Olivier Awards. As the biggest names in the West End pick out their best and brightest outfits, stay up to date on everything you need to know about this year’s Awards, including when and where the Oliviers are, how to watch them, who is nominated for an Olivier Award this year, and read reviews of the top shows and interviews with the nominees below.
What are the Olivier Awards?
Originally known as the Society of West End Theatre Awards, the awards were first given out in 1976 to celebrate excellence in professional London theatre. They were renamed after Laurence Olivier in 1984, and the statues show the actor as he appeared as Henry V at the Old Vic in 1937.
Now in their 43rd year, the Oliviers recognise brilliance across the board, with awards for acting, direction, choreography, lighting, set, costume and lighting design, achievements in dance, opera and music, as well as awards for the best new play, musical, and comedy, and best revival of a play and musical.
When are this year’s Olivier Awards?
This year, the Olivier Awards will take place at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 7th April 2019.
Who are this year’s Olivier Award nominees?
Unlike last year where Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece Hamilton broke records with 13 nominations, the musical honours are even between two of the year’s biggest musical openings; Stephen Sondheim’s classic Company and the brilliant Broadway transfer of Come From Away both received nine nominations. Both are up for best musical categories, Marianne Elliott and Christopher Ashley both receive best director noms, and Rachel Tucker, Patti LuPone and Rosalie Craig are among the acting nominations.
Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance leads the way when it comes to plays. His two-part play about a group of gay men in a post-AIDS New York received eight nominations, including best actor for Kyle Soller, best director for Stephen Daldry, and best new play.
Who will be performing at the Olivier Awards?
Performances at this year’s ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall are yet to be announced, but last year highlights included a celebration of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Jason Donovan and Lee Mead, the casts of Hamilton, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Girl from the North Country and Follies, plus Chita Rivera performing the West Side Story number “Somewhere”.
How can I watch the Olivier Awards?
Like previous years, ITV will broadcast the ceremony – which will be hosted by Jason Manford for a second time, though full details are yet to be announced. It will also be streamed on Facebook and Magic Radio.
Who’s going to win?
We don’t know (that’s kind of the point), but in previous years, we looked at the characters played by the winners of the best actor and actress awards in both plays and musicals to find out which roles are the most definitive ways of winning a gong.
Reviews of Olivier Award-nominated shows
Click the title of the show to read LondonTheatre's review of the nominated production.
|Best new musical|
|Come From Away||★★★★★||"Come From Away is in a category of its own: a genuinely original musical, based on real-life events that took place in the immediate wake of 9/11, that is full of heart, truth and genuine emotion."|
|Fun Home||★★★★★||"It is also every bit as ground-breaking and surprising [as Hamilton], giving a rare and thrilling musical voice to a young lesbian cartoonist's autobiographically-inspired rites of passage|
|Tina - The Tina Turner Musical||★★★★||"It’s everything you expected, executed well and packs in a few surprises. Simply the Best? If you’re a Tina fan, it’ll definitely be pretty close."|
|Best new play|
|The Inheritance||★★★★★||"So many thousands of gay men weren't lucky enough to survive the AIDS crisis; but this play stands both as a memorial to them, and their own legacy to us now. "|
|Misty||★★★★||"One thing Misty makes clear is that Arinzé Kene is an unstoppable modern performer: his wit emanates though raps, which flow with ease and anger."|
|Sweat||★★★★★||"Nottage's play is a piercing portrait of a community placed under intolerable strain, as their loyalties and self-interests are challenged."|
|Best musical revival|
|Caroline, or Change||★★★★★||"Sharon D Clarke has emerged as one of our very finest stage actors; this production puts a seal on her bid for stardom."|
|Company||★★★★★||"There have been other wonderful productions of Company, but this version is both a departure into new territory and a stunning reaffirmation of its brilliance."|
|The King and I||★★★★||"Sure, it's old-fashioned and a bit creaky. But The King and I is also - to quote one of its utterly glorious catalogue of standards - something wonderful."|
|Summer and Smoke||★★★★||"Summer and Smoke is one of Tennessee Williams’ lesser-performed plays, but this stunning production makes you wonder why. With two huge central roles and an intensely atmospheric feel, it really should not be missed. "|
|The Price||★★★★||"It's a tale of parental legacies and disappointed lives that's powerful, pertinent and well worth seeing. "|
|The Lieutenant of Inishmore||★★★★||"Terrorism is usually no laughing matter; but the audacity of playwright Martin McDonagh in this play is to make an outright, occasionally savage and genuinely hilarious theatrical farce out of it."|
|King Lear||★★★★★||"Even so, if there was one reason to see this Lear, it has to be McKellen. Each line is spoken with an elderly wisdom, even in the depths of his palpable madness."|
Interviews with Olivier nominees
Click the pictures to read interviews with some of this year's Olivier nominees.