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2016 Olivier Award Winners and 10 Lessons for the Tonys

August Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents, Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein were among the winners in the UK’s 40th anniversary Olivier Awards, named after Sir Laurence Olivier. Complete list of winners below.

It’s possible that Americans are always big winners, but this is the first time it’s been broadcast in the United States (Watch it on YouTube. Click here to see it on my page)

Best Revival

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at National Theatre, Lyttelton

Best Entertainment and Family

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at Apollo Theatre

Best Costume Design

Gregg Barnes for Kinky Boots at Adelphi Theatre

Blue-i Theatre Technology Award for Best Set Design

Anna Fleischle for Hangmen at Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre and Wyndham’s Theatre

White Light Award For Best Lighting Design

Mark Henderson for Gypsy at Savoy Theatre

Best Sound Design

Tom Gibbons for People, Places And Things at National Theatre, Dorfman

Best New Opera Production

Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci at Royal Opera House

Outstanding Achievement in Opera

English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra for The Force Of Destiny, Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk and The Queen Of Spades at London Coliseum

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Mark Gatiss for Three Days In The Country at National Theatre, Lyttelton

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Dame Judi Dench for The Winter’s Tale at Garrick Theatre

Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre

Pat Kinevane and Fishamble for Silent at Soho Theatre

Virgin Atlantic Best New Play

Hangmen at Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre and Wyndham’s Theatre

Best Actor

Kenneth Cranham for The Father at Wyndham’s Theatre

Best Actress

Denise Gough for People, Places And Things at National Theatre, Dorfman

Magic Radio Audience Award

The Phantom Of The Opera

Best New Comedy

Nell Gwynn at Apollo Theatre

Best New Dance Production

Woolf Works by Wayne McGregor at Royal Opera House

Outstanding Achievement in Dance

Alessandra Ferri for her performances in Chéri and Woolf Works at Royal Opera House

Autograph Sound Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music

In The Heights – Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Orchestrated and Arranged by Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman at King’s Cross Theatre

Best Theatre Choreographer

Drew McOnie for In The Heights at King’s Cross Theatre

Best Director

Robert Icke for Oresteia at Almeida Theatre

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical

David Bedella for In The Heights at King’s Cross Theatre

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Lara Pulver for Gypsy at Savoy Theatre

Best Musical Revival

Gypsy at Savoy Theatre

Best Actor in a Musical

Matt Henry for Kinky Boots at Adelphi Theatre

Best Actress in a Musical

Imelda Staunton for Gypsy at Savoy Theatre

 

MasterCard Best New Musical

Kinky Boots at Adelphi Theatre

 

Ten Lessons The Tony Awards Could Learn From The Olivier Awards

  1. The Oliviers described nominated straight plays and also presented scenes from each one of them.  (The Tonys just describe nominated plays.)
  2. The Oliviers have TWO awards for best sound. (The Tonys have eliminated the sound category entirely.)
  3. The Olivier Awards are not limited to productions of plays and musicals on the West End. (The Tonys are limited to Broadway plays and musicals, with just one exception.)
  4. The Oliviers offered a tasteful In Memoriam where pictures of those who died filled the screen, and Michael Feinstein’s musical accompaniment (he sang George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me) did not dominate.
  5. The (fine) orchestra was not used to cut off winners’ speeches.  Best Actor winner Kenneth Cranham for The Father gave a lengthy, somewhat rambling acceptance speech that was all the more affecting for being un-canned.
  6. There was no (or at least very little) cutesy patter between the presenters.
  7. They created a musical medley out of Shakespeare’s sonnets, in honor of the 400th anniversary of his death.
  8. The Olivier Awards included an intermission.
  9. There were no commercials (except embedded in the names of the individual awards — an idea one hopes that Tonys will NOT borrow.)
  10. The Olivier Awards is not solely a creature of television (at least not yet.)  It began before “prime time” and ended at a civilized hour — 9 p.m. in London.
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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights and The Broadway Breakthrough

BlackoutInTheHeights

In the Heights opened on March 9, 2008 — eight years ago today. By the time it closed exactly 34 months later, it had won five Tony Awards including best musical, and launched the Broadway careers of Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail and performers Joshua Henry and Javier Munoz, among others; it had also given a boost to choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, musical director Alex Lacamoire and performer Christopher Jackson.
At the time, I wrote: “My hope is that Lin-Manuel Miranda will return with a new work for the New York stage, rather than – the big temptation – going Hollywood.”
And so he did, collaborating once again with many of those with whom he worked on In The Heights, on Hamilton.
Seeing “In The Heights” for the first time inspired me to write an essay on the definition of Broadway, which I excerpt below:

 

New York is the only city I know of whose streets are not just locations but synonyms for whole industries — Wall Street and Madison Avenue (hence “Mad Men”); or even for an entire way of life — Fifth Avenue and (once) The Bowery. Broadway is short-hand for both an industry and a way of life. But Broadway means something different to different people.
This was brought home to me in at least three ways while attending “In The Heights.”  From the very start of the musical, the audience is brought cheekily into another Broadway – the street that runs through Washington Heights:
“Now you’re probably thinking ‘I’m up shit’s creek, I never been north of Ninety-sixth Street,” the main character, a bodega owner named Usnavi, raps before the looming backdrop of the George Washington Bridge. “Well, you must take the A train even farther than Harlem to Northern Manhattan…get off at 181st, and take the escalator.”
We are in a Broadway of Puerto Rican, Dominican and Cuban residents who are struggling with rising rents and paltry paychecks and a blacked-out, broken down city, but also a neighborhood of exuberant aspiration, the neighbors’ stories told in a score infused with rap, salsa and meringue, “sounds that are an ear-tickling novelty on Broadway,” wrote the New York Times reviewer. He did not mean Broadway at 181st Street, where they are anything but a novelty.
Some call “In The Heights” a breakthrough musical — a breakthrough for Latin music and Latino performers and for Lin-Manuel Miranda, the star, lyricist and composer who conceived the idea for the show when he was a sophomore at Wesleyan College. (Other reviewers explicitly said it was not a breakthrough musical, e.g.: “In the Heights” is not another break-through tribal musical like, in their respective days, “West Side Story,” “Hair” or “Rent,” but it gets its electricity from the same source.”)

Sometimes it seems there have been so many “breakthrough musicals” on Broadway — yes, “West Side Story,” “Hair” and “Rent” but also “A Chorus Line” and before that “South Pacific” and before that “Oklahoma” and before that “Of Thee I Sing” (the first Broadway musical to win a Pulitzer) and before that “Show Boat” — that “Broadway” is synonymous with “breakthrough.” If the story in “In The Heights” is  familiar, the story of “In The Heights” is familiar too…and thrilling. Breakthrough productions and star-making performances are a large part of Broadway lore…a large part of what Broadway is .

The first Broadway musical that anybody ever called a Broadway breakthrough was “The Black Crook”, because, some claim, it was the very first Broadway musical — in 1866.

Fire had destroyed the largest theater in New York, the Academy of Music, which was on Union Square, leaving the impresario with no place to present a troupe of ballet dancers he had brought over from Paris. The producer went over to the owner of the second largest theater in New York, Niblo’s Garden, which was on Broadway (and Prince Street). The manager of Niblo’s was about to put on a melodrama called “The Black Crook.” The ballet producer convinced the melodrama manager to combine theatrical forces…and the Broadway musical was born, a uniquely American art form; a true breakthrough.