Legally Blonde, Into the Woods, Clybourne Park, After the Dance Among Olivier Award Winners in London

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13 Mar 2011

Olivier Award winner David Thaxton as Giorgio in <i>Passion</i>.
Olivier Award winner David Thaxton as Giorgio in Passion.
Photo by Johan Persson

The West End production of Legally Blonde was named Best New Musical in this year's Laurence Olivier Awards, presented March 13 at the West End's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, with star Sheridan Smith, who played Elle Woods, named Best Actress in a Musical, and Jill Halfpennny, who played Paulette, winning the award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

Another American import, Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park, took the honor for Best New Play. Originally produced at New York City's Playwrights Horizons, it is currently running in a different production at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre after premiering at the Royal Court last year. The National Theatre's production of Terence Rattigan's rarely seen After the Dance took awards for Best Revival, Best Actress in a Play (Nancy Carroll), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Adrian Scarborough) and Best Costume Design (Hildegard Bechtler). The National also scored three wins for its production of Bulgakov's The White Guard, with Howard Davies, Bunny Christie and Neil Austin winning in the categories for best director, set and lighting design respectively.

The Royal Court also saw additional Olivier wins going to Michelle Terry, named Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Tribes, and Leon Baugh, named Best Theatre Choreographer for his work on Sucker Punch.

The annual Society of London Theatre Special Award, chosen by the board of the Society of London Theatres, was presented to Stephen Sondheim by Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Angela Lansbury, who flew to London specially for the occasion. The finale of the evening was a tribute to the composer-lyricist which included Adrian Lester and Angela Lansbury — the latter singing on a London stage for the first time in many years — joined by 360 students from national drama schools performing "Our Time."

Last summer's Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park production of Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods also took the award for Best Musical Revival. David Thaxton, who starred as Giorgio in another Sondheim revival last year, Passion at the Donmar Warehouse, was named Best Actor in a Musical.



Roger Allam took the award for Best Actor for his performance as Falstaff in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 at Shakespeare's Globe, and the stage adaptation of E. Nesbit's The Railway Children, seen in a specially converted theatre at Waterloo's decomissioned Eurostar terminal, was named Best Entertainment. It returns there for another run June 18-Sept. 4.

The BBC Radio 2 Audience Award for Most Popular Show, voted for by the public, went to We Will Rock You. The Lyric Hammersmith's production of Sarah Kane's Blasted was named Outstanding Achievement in an Affliliate Theatre.

In the opera categories, a fringe production of La Boheme, originated at the tiny Cock Tavern Theatre in Kilburn, subsequently seen at Soho Theatre, and now in rep at the King's Head, took the award for Best New Opera Production, while Christian Gerhaher won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera for his peformance in the Royal Opera's Tannhuauser. Finally, in the dance categories, Babel (Words), seen at Sadler's Wells, took both awards, both for Best New Dance Production, and Antony Gormley won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance for his set design for it.