By Lussorian’s roving reporter Toby Rose
The Oliviers got bigger and better this year and symbolic of this was the move to the prestige premises of the Covent Garden Opera House.
A giant red carpet, winding up the street, was truly star studded, and once again under the banner of headline sponsor Mastercard. Big names including Barbara Windsor to Tye Daley of Cagney and Lacey fame stopped for snappers, TV interviews and autograph hunters alike. The air might have been chill but the glamour shone through.
Barbara Windsor with Lussorian’s Toby Rose
And the anticipation was high, as this year has been a stellar year for London Theatre. As James Earl Jones was to note when he presented the Best Director to Matilda`s Matthew Warchus. The was a time when the question was if a show had `legs` – which meant could it pay the rent for a theatre run.
Now, he said, the question posed is whether a London show has the `wings` to fly to over for a Broadway transfer. There is an air of confidence in this booming sector of Britain, which has posted its eighth successive year of breaking box office records.
Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatres, revealed that the 2012 Oliviers were the biggest ever. Not only that but the event itself was something of a record breaker `possibly the biggest one nighter anyone has done, ever. We had about 450 people on stage` he told The Guardian.
The Crazy For You Posse
Among those on stage were the world-class winners of this year`s crop of gongs. Including Best Musical Revival for Crazy For You at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre. It also received an Olivier for costumes, which were on fine display when the cast took to the stage to perform a number to rapturous applause.
Collecting her second Olivier was Ruth Wilson for Anna Christie and also back for a prize was Sheridan Smith who won for Best Supporting Performance in Flare Path. The hot star – who last year won for her outstanding role in Legally Blonde – was not in able to attend in person. None other than her director Trevor Nunn read out her acceptance speech modestly omitting the, no doubt, gushing thank you reserved for him.
Later at the party Sheridan`s mother, mentioned in the speech and wildly cheering from the circle, explained how she was taking care of Miss Smith`s three dogs.
The eagerly anticipated Mastercard Best New Play Award went to a true quality piece, Collaborators at the Cottesloe at the National Theatre. And another high point was appearance of Ronan Keating singing the Bacharach classic I`ll Never Fall In Love. He was then joined on stage by Kimberly Walsh, for a sweet duet.
But in a night, which saw two barnstorming productions going head to head One ManTwo Guvnors and Matilda – it was to be the endearing charm of the Roald Dahl musical which was to emerge the decisive winner with 7 Oliviers.
Billy Elliot showcased the talents of a brace of young lads in tutus, the audience at the Royal Opera got to see the young ladies who made the title role in Matilda their own. They bounced on stage and sang a song from the show. Hearts melted and their performance heralded an evening, which was to see Matilda scoop the lion`s share of Oliviers. The inventive charm of the musical swept all before it.
Dame Elaine Page channelling Evita
The evening culminated with the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Sir Tim Rice and to give fine voice to his peerless achievements in theatre was Dame Elaine Page, who sang a rousing Evita. The performance left the Royal Opera House in no doubt as to the legacy of one of giants of musical theatre.
The big beast of London`s theatre land marvelled and whooped as The Lion King cast invaded the auditorium to bid farewell Oliviers 2012 in high spirited style. In yet colourful sign off tribute to the talent of the night`s Lifetime Achievement recipient Sir Tim Rice who had just been congratulated on the big video screen by two of Britain`s biggest showbiz beasts Sir Elton John and Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber. Proving that when it comes to Theatre land, London remains King of the Jungle.
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