Who will win big?: Mark Shenton's predictions for the 2019 Olivier Awards
With award ceremonies, it's not really a question of the best man, woman or show winning. So many other factors come into play, and the Olivier Awards are no exception.
But it's not just that the best man, woman or show wins or doesn't necessarily win (always a subjective call in any case) but whether the best man, woman or show is even in the competition. There are always plenty of anomalies in who even gets recognised.
Take just one example: Ruthie Ann Miles was nominated for her supporting performance as Lady Thiang in The King and I. But in fact, owing to a personal tragedy in which her year-old daughter (and unborn child) were killed in a road accident and she was seriously injured, she missed the opening and critics did not review her, though many thought that she did, as there was no notification of the fact that Naoko Mori was in fact playing the role. Mori alternated with Miles to play a substantial part of the run; but Miles alone was nominated.
In making my own predictions in the major categories, I'm going to select who I think should win - and also who will win.
Best new musical
Should win: Fun Home already won the Tony for best musical and is the most daring musical on the slate.
Will win: Six at the Arts Theatre. Award ceremonies love a surprise - and an underdog. The sole British musical on the list, this show has emerged via an undergraduate Edinburgh fringe run to become a sleeper hit in the West End.
Best musical revival
Will win: Company at the Gielgud Theatre. Not so much a revival as a wholesale reinvention, this production of Sondheim's 1970 urban musical makes it feel entirely fresh and new. By contrast, another Broadway classic The King and I at the London Palladium was an old-fashioned delight; while the also nominated Caroline, Or Change at Playhouse Theatre was a previous winner for best new musical when it was first presented in the UK at the National just twelve years ago.
Best actor in a musical
Should win: Marc Antolin for Little Shop Of Horrors at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. This delightful performer has been steadily rising through the ranks of British musical theatre for years, but now found the understated, downtrodden role that perfectly matched his personality.
Best actress in a musical
Should win: All four nominees!
The strongest category in the competition means each and every one would be worthy of winning, for different reasons. The monumental performance of Sharon D Clarke in Caroline, Or Change is one of the greatest acting performances I've ever seen in a musical; Rosalie Craig entirely reinvents Bobbi (and not just in a change of gender from Bobby) in Company; while Kelli O'Hara was a radiant Anna in The King and I and Adrienne Warren in the Broadway-bound Tina - The Tina Turner Musical is a living reincarnation of a younger Tina Turner.
Will win: Anybody's guess!
Best actor in a supporting role in a musical
Will win: Jonathan Bailey for Company at the Gielgud Theatre. This is an absolute guarantee - as the first male groom to get to sing "Not Getting Married Today" in Company, as he gets ready to wed his husband, Bailey was an essential part of this production's gender reinventions.
Best actress in a supporting role in a musical
Will win: Patti LuPone for Company at the Gielgud Theatre. The Broadway legend LuPone has been an occasional visitor to the West End, but she should take up permanent residence. A previous Olivier winner in 1985 for her performances in the original production of Les Miserables and The Cradle will Rock, she is the reigning queen of divadom on Broadway; though she may be given a run for her money by the jointly nominated sextet of queens from the British musical Six at the Arts Theatre.
Ruthie Ann Miles for The King and I at the London Palladium.
“The Queens” - Aimie Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Millie O’Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel - for Six at the Arts Theatre.
Rachel Tucker for Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre.
Outstanding achievement in music
Will win: Six - Original score, orchestrations and vocal arrangements: Toby Marlow, Lucy Moss, Tom Curran and Joe Beighton at the Arts Theatre. Though the Tony Award-winning Fun Home was expected to transfer to the West End after its sell-out UK premiere at the Young Vic, it never materialised; so it would be a lovely consolation prize if this important, ground-breaking show that put a lesbian life centerstage were to be honoured now (and might encourage a belated West End run, too, though the Oliviers don't actually have the commercial impact that a Tony win does). But Six may take the prize, honouring a rare underdog British original musical by writers who are still in their twenties.
Come From Away - Book, Music and Lyrics: David Hein and Irene Sankoff; Music Supervisor, Arrangements: Ian Eisendrath; Orchestrations: August Eriksmoen; Musical Director/UK Music Supervisor: Alan Berry; and the band of Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre.
The Inheritance - Composer: Paul Englishby at the Young Vic and the Noël Coward Theatre.
A Monster Calls - Original music composed by Benji Bower and performed live by Benji with Will Bower (The Bower Brothers) at the Old Vic.
Best theatre choreographer
Will win: Liam Steel for Company at the Gielgud Theatre. The organic choreography of Come From Away looks spontaneous and made up on-the-spot, but the precisely-calibrated movement is more likely to be noticed. And the way all the characters are choreographed into the tiny cube that is the lead character's New York apartment is a thing of wonder.
Best new play
Will win: The Inheritance. Matthew Lopez's two-part play was simply epic, in the best sense.
Will win: Summer and Smoke. This Tennessee Williams relative rarity was completely reinvented. The other revivals were of better-known plays and will each live to see another production.
Best new comedy
Should win: Nine Night in the Dorfman Theatre at the National Theatre and Trafalgar Studios One. Natasha Gordon became the first black British-born playwright to have a play in the West End when Nine Night transferred from the National, and was a great crowd-pleasing family drama.
Will win: Home, I'm Darling in the Dorfman Theatre at the National Theatre and the Duke of York's Theatre. Another play written by a woman, and also originated via the National in a co-production via Theatr Clwyd, Laura Wade's comedy is still running at the Duke of York's so is fresher in the memory.
Best entertainment and family
Will win: anybody's guess! This slightly baffling category is a catch-all for shows of different stripes that don't fit other categories, and as well as the Palladium's now annual (and riotous) panto, also includes a one-woman musical revue, a science-based show, and a play by any other name.
Should win: Kyle Soller for The Inheritance at the Young Vic and the Noël Coward Theatre. The young American-born, UK trained Soller has already won the Critics Circle Theatre Award for The Inheritance and deserves to win again.
Will win: Ian McKellen for King Lear at the Duke of York's Theatre. The great classical actor is marking his 80th birthday by playing a solo show at 80 theatres up and down the land as fundraisers for them. He will win for the greatness of that gesture and his boldness in returning to Shakespeare's great tragedy ten years after he previously played it.
Adam Godley, Ben Miles and Simon Russell Beale for The Lehman Trilogy in the Lyttelton Theatre at the National Theatre.
Arinzé Kene for Misty at Trafalgar Studios One.
David Suchet for The Price at the Wyndham's Theatre.
Will win: Patsy Ferran. In a strong field, this captivating young star will triumph over her more famous peers for the vivacity and surprise of her performance.
Gillian Anderson for All About Eve at the Noël Coward Theatre.
Eileen Atkins for The Height Of The Storm at the Wyndham's Theatre.
Sophie Okonedo for Antony And Cleopatra in the Olivier Theatre at the National Theatre.
Katherine Parkinson for Home, I'm Darling in the Dorfman Theatre at the National Theatre and the Duke of York's Theatre.
Will win: Stephen Daldry. Marshalling this thrilling two-part play across more than seven hours of playing time, Daldry stripped it right back to an unshowy demonstration of sheer craft through the simple expedient of doing less.
Christopher Ashley for Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre
Marianne Elliott for Company at Gielgud Theatre
Rebecca Frecknall for Summer and Smoke at the Almeida Theatre and the Duke of York's Theatre.
Sam Mendes for The Lehman Trilogy in the Lyttelton Theatre at the National Theatre.
When can I watch the Olivier Awards?
The 2019 Olivier Awards will take place on 7th April at the Royal Albert Hall, starting at 6pm and finishing at 9pm, hosted by Jason Manford and with guest presenters including the Duchess of Cornwall, Tom Hiddleston, Gloria Estefan, Sally Field, Kelsey Grammar and Danny Dyer. There will be performances from all the nominees for best musical, as well as Mamma Mia!, celebrating its 20th anniversary in the West End the night before).
The 2019 Olivier Awards will be broadcast live on Magic FM, and a highlights package broadcast on ITV1 at 10:20pm.