Olivier Awards 2020: Mark Shenton predicts the nominations
We've already had the Evening Standard Theatre Awards and the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards that honour individual productions, performances, and creatives across the last year, while this Sunday sees the presentation of the public-nominated (and voted) WhatsOnStage Awards. Each have their own quirky individuality in terms of rules as well as choices, with both the Evening Standard and WhatsOnStage Awards regularly celebrating celebrity over achievement (the former often recognising friends of the paper's proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, or people he wishes to befriend, and voters of the latter awards not even necessarily having seen the nominees).
The Critics' Circle Theatre Awards (which I used to run in my former capacity as chairman of the drama section that presents them) represent a free vote of critics from around the country, but inevitably (since a majority of the members of the circle are London-based) they invariably go to productions seen in the capital (with occasional nods to Stratford-upon-Avon or Chichester, where many critics travel).
The Oliviers, on the other hand, are specifically dedicated to productions that take place only in venues that are members of the Society of London Theatre, but nowadays have the biggest profile of any awards, not least because they're presented in a ceremony at London's most glamorous venue, the Royal Albert Hall and can be followed at home by listening in to Magic FM, with ITV producing a highlights TV programme after the event. They also come last in the schedule, this year on 5th April, with nominations to be announced next Tuesday. Eligibility for this year's awards spans productions that opened between 20th February 2019 and 18th February 2020.
Going out on a limb today, I am going to attempt to guess the likely nominees for Best New Play, Best New Musical and those in the major acting categories (for plays and musicals).
Best new play
The Critics' Circle gave its award to Lucy Prebble's A Very Expensive Poison, while the Evening Standard Theatre Award went to Lynn Nottage's Sweat (which was eligible for last year's Oliviers, so won't be in contention this year).
Best new musical
Since last year's awards already included Come From Away (which won this year's Critics' Circle Theatre Award), that show is not in the reckoning. The Evening Standard Theatre Awards gave its award to Evita at Regent's Park Open Air, which was a revival so therefore not eligible in this category for the Oliviers. This year's awards will again be dominated by two Broadway imports, though there are two homegrown titles that will likely compete with them.
Best actor in a play
Andrew Scott in Present Laughter (Old Vic)
Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Wendell Pierce in Death of a Salesman (Young Vic/Piccadilly Theatre)
Matt Smith in Lungs (Old Vic)
James McArdle in Peer Gynt (National's Olivier)
Best actress in a play
Zawe Ashton in Betrayal (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Sharon D Clarke in Death of a Salesman (Young Vic/Piccadilly Theatre)
Juliet Stevenson in The Doctor (Almeida, transferring to the Duke of York's)
Claire Foy in Lungs (Old Vic)
Hayley Atwell in Rosmersholm (Duke of York's)
Best actor in a musical
Andy Nyman in Fiddler on the Roof (Menier Chocolate Factory and Playhouse Theatre)
Sam Tutty in Dear Evan Hansen (Noel Coward Theatre)
Charlie Stemp in Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre)
Oliver Tompsett in & Juliet (Shaftesbury Theatre)
Best actress in a Musical
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