London’s biggest awards are back this weekend – here’s who will win

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Although a spirited, mostly online edition of the Laurence Olivier Awards was picked up in the autumn of 2020, you really have to look back to 2019 for the last ‘normal’ incarnation of the most prestigious awards from British theatre.

But now the Oliviers are back! And for the most part they look the same as before, with the fact that the nomination season was actually shorter than usual (as theaters were closed until May) had little impact: indeed, the high number of delayed musicals finally being staged means that it might be a busier year than usual.

So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the nominees and potential winners at Sunday’s ceremony, which will take place at the Royal Albert Hall, with coverage on ITV and Magic Radio.

the frontrunner

The West End luxury revival of Kander & Ebb’s ‘Cabaret’ has received 11 nominations and it looks like they’re going to claim their fair share of them. Some technical categories and minor acting awards are likely to be more contentious, and there’s stiff competition from the Barbican revival of “Anything Goes,” but it would be pretty remarkable if “Cabaret” didn’t take home the best actor in a musical. (for Eddie Redmayne), actress in a musical (Jessie Buckley), set design (Tom Scutt), and musical revival – and that’s a bare minimum. It’s basically the night of ‘Cabaret’ to throw away.

The Dark Ponytail Tiger

Okay, Max Webster’s puppet-powered West End version of Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” is hardly a brave outsider at nine nominations. Nevertheless, as a somewhat unusual show that is not a musical but in many ways falls outside the traditional definitions of “drama”, it has the potential to cause quite a stir. There aren’t always obvious categories to enter a puppet show, which means there are weird nominations, like the seven actors playing the tiger Richard Parker being nominated together for Best Supporting Actor – they were brilliant, but it’s an odd combination and hard to predict how they’ll stack up against more traditional performances.

Award for Best Acting Work

The Oliviers divide these between musical and non-musical for some reason, but it would be really remarkable if Redmayne and Buckley didn’t have the musical in their pocket, so let’s cover that up.

In terms of straight plays, the Best Actress award is as bewildering a string of nominations as I can remember: Lily Allen was very believable in 2:22: A Ghost Story, but not amazingly; Sheila Atim was great in ‘Constellations’, but her nomination feels a bit arbitrary as she was one of four actresses to play the same role; Emma Corrin’s for the little-remembered “Anna X” is just mind-boggling. Cush Jumbo seems likely to win for ‘Hamlet’ because she was quite good herself and people like to award prizes to ‘Hamlet’ even if it wasn’t a very good ‘Hamlet’.

The actor category is essentially less controversial – the National Theater’s revival of Larry Kramer’s ‘The Normal Heart’ has garnered five nominations, which is a hell of a lot for a show that hasn’t played in the West End, and Ben Daniels took the actor along. went home at last weekend’s Critics’ Circle Awards, so I think he’ll take it here.

Best new play

James Graham’s ‘Best of Enemies’ is clearly the best piece nominated and stands a good chance of being recognized as such. Still, it was only a few years ago that “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child” won the Best Play award as part of an overall sweep for the show, despite the script clearly not being a classic in its own right. Don’t be shocked if ‘Life of Pi’ makes it.

Best new musical

I’ll tell you what won’t get the biggest gong of the night: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cinderella,” which got just one nod (Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for Victoria Hamilton-Barritt). In fact, the dominance of the ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Anything Goes’ revivals obscures how chaotic the nominations for new musicals in general are. In the best new musical – the only extremely prestigious category that ‘Cabaret’ can’t compete in – it’s almost impossible to say what’s going to win. ‘Back to the Future’ has the most nominations (seven), but bona fide Broadway hit ‘Moulin Rouge!’ seems like a slightly more believable choice. In any case, it’s the most open category in years – adding to the fun.

The Laurence Olivier Awards are in the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 10 April. Follow our live report

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