After looking at the Best Actress categories in the 2016 Olivier Award nominations, this week Chair of the Critics' Circle and LondonTheatre.co.uk reviewer Mark Shenton turns his attention to the Best Actor categories. Much like the actresses, the awards for Best Actor take in a number of familiar names and celebrities, all of which have tread the boards in the West End this past year. Mark Shenton offers his view on each of the categories, and gives his pick of who he would like to win, as well as who he thinks will take whom the award.
Every single person is a wonderful actor. Obviously Benedict Cumberbatch is the 'news item' because he's got many fans and it was the biggest theatre event of last year without question. You don't give someone an award however for just being an event. I think Branagh coming back to London in a prolonged season is also an event. Kenneth Cranham won the Critics' Circle Award for his role in The Father and he told us that he hadn't had an award since 1965 or something. It would be extraordinary if he won it, but you know what I'm just wondering if it's going to be Rylance's year again. He's just won an Oscar, he's a phenomonal actor and he's like Judi Dench now - he can't go onstage without getting an award. When you have him in a category you think he'd get it - if I were putting money on it he would get my vote. Adrian Lester won the Critics' Circle Award for that same role three years ago, so a bit like Gypsy it now feels a bit too long after the event.
This is interesting, because all four of these are very solid once again. Mark Gatiss gave a show stealing turn that was outright hilarious. Suchet is a huge star and him playing a woman is the big news story. My own choice would be for Mark Gatiss, but I wouldn't be unhappy if Tom Sturridge won. He stole the show in that, he was the best of the three. It's interesting that Damien Lewis and John Goodman weren't remembered, but I'm glad Sturridge was.
Another hard one. Jamie Parker is big news because he'd never sung before, then he did three musicals in succession. I think our leading man of musical theatre today however is Killian Donnelly. What I love about him is that 2007 was his first major role and he's never been out of work in the past eight years, he goes from one to the next to the next and every time he's with it. Again I'd give it to him, althought the Matt Henry role is the one that won it on Broadway for Billy Porter. Of the two I'd go with Killian, but you can never tell with the Oliviers! It may be Jamie Parker's year though - he already won the UK Theatre Award.
This was the one where we had a nice surprise in David Bedella being nominated for In The Heights. I loved Dan Burton in Gypsy and thought he was brilliant, but then so was Peter Davison. I've seen many Herbie's before and they don't really register much but he was just excellent. Either of them could win it for me - but I think it may just be Peter Davison.
Mark's Winner: Dan Burton (Gypsy) / Peter Davison (Gypsy) Predicted Winner: Peter Davison (Gypsy)
Next week we take a look at the Creatives in each of the Olivier Award 2016 categories...