But what about the shows that never make it to the other side? All the Way and A Gentleman’s Guide to Murder have never been performed in London, despite Tony Awards for best play and musical, respectively. And as it turns out, a dozen Olivier-winning shows have yet to make it to Broadway. See below for a brief synopsis and original production history for each one.
(The year noted represents what year the show won the award.)
Best New Play
Dear Daddy (1976)
A bitter, aging man hated by his family continues to schlep through life despite constant attacks on his harsh personality and pointed lack of presence. Written by Dennis Caman, Dear Daddy premiered at the Ambassador Theatre with an opening night cast that included Nigel Patrick, Isabel Dean, and Jennifer Hilary.
The Fire That Consumes (1977)
A priest at an all-boys school becomes increasingly jealous and obsessive when his favorite student develops a strong relationship with one of his elder classmates. Based on the French play La Ville dont le Prince est un enfant, this play debuted at the Mermaid Theatre starring Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Dai Bradley.
Another Country (1982)
Gay Guy Bennett and Marxist Tommy Judd develop a friendship in school and grow up against the stuffy backdrop of 1930s British society. Rupert Everett played Guy when the show opened at the Greenwich Theatre with Kenneth Branagh taking on the role of Tommy after the production moved to the Queen’s Theatre. Everett later starred in the 1984 film adaptation alongside Colin Firth as Tommy.
Red Noses (1985)
A 14th-century priest and his band of fools pass through villages in France visiting people suffering from the plague. Staged at the Barbican Theatre, the comedy featured Antony Sher in the starring role and earned playwright Peter Barnes his only Olivier Award.
Black Watch (2009)
Soldiers of a long-standing Scottish regiment, Black Watch, re-enact and share their stories from the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was marred by political objections by U.K. Parliament and intense sieges from the enemy in the Middle East. Initially showcased during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the play became a fully-fledged production during the inaugural season of the Scottish National Theatre. It won four Olivier Awards in total, including John Tiffany for Best Director. (It did play Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse in 2011.)
Joe, a photojournalist, believes he knows where Tank Man from the Tiananmen Square riots now lives. At the same time, Joe’s boss in Beijing tries to leak a story about the real impact of smog and finds himself in pursuit by Chinese authorities. Written by Lucy Kirkwood, the show debuted at Almeida Theatre before transferring to the Harold Pinter in the West End. It won five Olivier Awards in total, including Lyndsey Turner as Best Director. The show is currently in development as a mini-series for Channel 4 starring Alessandro Nivola, Cherry Jones, and F. Murray Abraham.
Best New Musical
Set during the First Opium War, the pantomime musical explores the hypocrisy of the Victorian era through the eyes of British countryman Dick and his manservant Jack. As they travel to London and onward to the Far East, they encounter new people and ideas. Written by Monty Norman and Peter Nicols, it premiered at the Barbican Centre.
The story of Al Jolson, the vaudeville star who went on to star in the first talking movie, The Jazz Singer, and his 30-plus year career. Created by Francis Essex and Rob Bettinson, the show opened at the Victoria Palace theatre featuring Brian Conley as Jolson, Sally Ann Triplett as Ruby Keeler, and John Bennett as Jolson’s agent.
Martin Guerre (1997)
When Martin Guerre returns home from the Catholic-Protestant Wars in 16th-century France, he’s not the same as his loved ones remember him. Helmed by the team that brought Les Misérables and Miss Saigon to the stage, Martin Guerre opened at the Prince Edward Theatre to mixed reviews and underwent significant changes three months after debuting, closing for a week for revisions. Plans to bring the musical back to life were abandoned in 2017.
Our House (2003)
When Joe tries to impress Sarah on his 16th birthday, he breaks the law and encounters the police. The story splits into a tale of two Joes over the next seven years, one who tries to do the right thing and one who runs away. Based on the music by the ska band Madness with a book by Tim Firth, it opened at Cambridge Theatre. Michael Jibson was Olivier nominated for his turn as Joe while Downton Abbey favorite Lesley Nicol (Miss Patmore) portrayed his mother.
Top Hat (2013)
A dancer from America travels to London, falls in love with a dancer after a chance encounter, and woos her around the city. The musical is based on the 1935 film with songs by Irving Berlin. The initial production launched in Milton Keynes, before touring the U.K. and ultimately landing at the Aldwych Theatre in the West End. Strictly Come Dancing’s Tom Chambers and West End vet Summer Strallen were both Olivier-nominated for their performances, and the show won for Best Choreography.
Sunny Afternoon (2015)
Based on the story of The Kinks, whose songs include “Waterloo Sunset,” “Lola,” and “Sunny Afternoon” and who helped create a new sound against the backdrop of social change and political upheaval in the U.K. during the '60s. The show won four Olivier awards, including Best Actor for John Dagleish as lead singer Ray Davies (who is solely credited for the music and lyrics) and Best Supporting Actor for George Maguire. The show premiered at Hampstead Theatre before transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre.