It’s that time of year again! The 2019 awards season has well and truly begun in London’s theatreland and there are several big-hitters leading the way. The WhatsOnStage (WOS) Awards were held on Sunday March 3, celebrating the best musicals and plays on and off London’s West End. Importantly, these awards often tend to signal the favorites to take home an Olivier Award on April 7. So, with the WOS winners and the Olivier Award nominees announced, let’s take a look at what’s hot in the UK!

Leading the way in the musicals after a phenomenal run at the Gielgud Theatre is Marianne Elliot’s reimagining of Stephen Sondheim’s Company. This is the first production to re envision Bobby as a single woman in her mid-thirties, who has not yet settled down with the right man, much to the consternation of her married friends. In a BBC radio interview last year, Sondheim admitted that when Marianne Elliot first approached him with the idea of switching the genders he wasn’t 100% sure but agreed to give the rewrite a go. Safe to say, he is now completely convinced of the musical’s new success and, believe me, it really works! The 2019 production’s cast recording has just been released and, if you can’t catch the last few weeks of this amazing show, check it out! [Company on Amazon].

Marianne Elliot was awarded the gong for Best Direction at the recent WhatsOnStage Awards, while Patti LuPone walked away with Best Supporting Actress for her magnetic performance as Joanne (a simply amazing rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch”). Meanwhile, the show is celebrating an incredible nine nominations at the Olivier Awards, including Best Musical Revival, Best Direction, Best Actress (Rosalie Craig), Best Supporting Actress (Patti LuPone), and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Richard Fleeshman and Jonathan Bailey respectively).

Company was not the only musical to be re-worked and achieve phenomenal success this side of the pond in 2018. Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe’s Heathers: The Musical opened off-West End at The Other Palace, London in June 2018 and transferred to the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket for a 12 week run at the end of the year. Several changes were made to the original Los Angeles/Off Broadway production but the creative team remained the same. Led by director, Andy Fickman, two new songs (including the anthemic “I Say No”) were added to the London production along with several script changes. The show was a huge hit and was rewarded with the WOS awards for Best New Musical (defeating Hamilton!) and Best Actress in a Musical (Carrie Hope Fletcher).

Sticking with musicals, there is one other production that has only recently opened but is already making huge waves in the West End. After proving itself to be a firm favorite in Toronto and on Broadway (and scoring seven nominations at the 2017 Tony Awards), Come From Away finally opened at London’s Phoenix Theatre in January this year. Although it was too late to be considered for the WOS Awards, Rachel Tucker (last seen on the West End and Broadway in The Last Ship) performed the hit number, “Me and the Sky”, as American Airline’s first female pilot, Beverley Bass. The show currently leads the way with Company, boasting nine Olivier Award nominations including Best Supporting Actress (Rachel Tucker), Best Supporting Actor (Clive Carter and Robert Hands respectively), Outstanding Achievement in Music, Best New Musical and Best Director.

In the play categories, one production again leads the way in the UK theatre awards. Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance is inspired by E.M. Forster’s 1910 novel, Howard’s End, updating the setting to contemporary New York City. Premiering in London in 2018 and directed by Stephen Daldry, this epic play is staged in two parts (each lasting three hours) and questions what it is like to be a young gay man in New York, a generation after the peak of the AIDS crisis. It won the WhatsOnStage award for Best New Play, and Vanessa Redgrave came away with the award for Best Supporting Actress as the only female actor in a predominantly male cast. The production has since been nominated for eight awards at the 2019 Oliviers, including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Actor (Kyle Soller) and Best Supporting Actress (Vanessa Redgrave).

Meanwhile, Sir Ian McKellen received his 11th Olivier nomination for his portrayal of King Lear at London’s Duke of York Theatre (following a sell-out run in Chichester) and the play itself is nominated for Best Revival. Martin McDonagh’s Tony nominated black comedy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, received a WhatsOnStage award for its lead actor, Aidan Turner, and has also garnered two Olivier nominations for Best Revival and Best Supporting Actor (Chris Walley).

However, this writer’s top pick for the most heated head-to-head at the 2019 Olivier Awards goes to the category of Best Actress in a Play. Gillian Anderson (in the newly opened All About Eve) is up against Sophie Okonedo in her much lauded portrayal of Cleopatra in the National Theatre’s Antony and Cleopatra, Eileen Atkins in The Height of the Storm, Katherine Parkinson in the National Theatre’s Home, I’m Darling, and Patsy Ferran for Summer And Smoke. A very tough call!

For a full list of the 2019 Olivier Award nominees, check out our list below and be sure to keep your eyes peeled on April 7!

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Jonathan Bailey, Company at the Gielgud Theatre

Clive Carter, Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre

Richard Fleeshman, Company at the Gielgud Theatre

Robert Hands, Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Patti LuPone, Company at the Gielgud Theatre

Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I at the London Palladium

“The Queens” – Aimie Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Millie O’Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel – for Six at Arts Theatre

Rachel Tucker, Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC

Come From Away – Book, Music and Lyrics: David Hein and Irene Sankoff; Music Supervisor, Arrangements: Ian Eisendrath; Orchestrations: August Eriksmoen; Musical Director/UK Music Supervisor: Alan Berry; and the band of Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre

Fun Home – Composer: Jeanine Tesori; Lyricist/Bookwriter: Lisa Kron at Young Vic

The Inheritance – Composer: Paul Englishby at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre

A Monster Calls – Original music composed by Benji Bower and performed live by Benji with Will Bower (The Bower Brothers) at The Old Vic

Six – Original score, orchestrations and vocal arrangements: Toby Marlow, Lucy Moss, Tom Curran and Joe Beighton at Arts Theatre

BEST NEW DANCE PRODUCTION

16 A Room/Solo Echo/Bill by Ballet British Columbia at Sadler’s Wells

Blkdog by Botis Seva at Sadler’s Wells

Playlist (Track 1, 2) by William Forsythe for English National Ballet at Sadler’s Wells

The Unknown Soldier by Alastair Marriott for The Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE

Akram Khan for his performance in Xenos at Sadler’s Wells

John Macfarlane for his design of Swan Lake at Royal Opera House

Dimitris Papaioannou for his choreography of The Great Tamer at Sadler’s Wells

BEST ENTERTAINMENT AND FAMILY

A Monster Calls at The Old Vic

Snow White at The London Palladium

Songs For Nobodies at Ambassadors Theatre

The Wider Earth at Jerwood Gallery, Natural History Museum

BEST THEATRE CHOREOGRAPHER

Kelly Devine for Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre

Christopher Gattelli based on original choreography by Jerome Robbins for The King And I at The London Palladium

Carrie-Anne Ingrouille for Six at Arts Theatre

Liam Steel for Company at Gielgud Theatre

BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL

Caroline, Or Change at Playhouse Theatre

Company at Gielgud Theatre

The King And I at The London Palladium

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Marc Antolin for Little Shop Of Horrors at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith for Tina – The Tina Turner Musical at Aldwych Theatre

Zubin Varla for Fun Home at Young Vic

Ken Watanabe for The King And I at The London Palladium

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Sharon D Clarke for Caroline, Or Change at Playhouse Theatre

Rosalie Craig for Company at Gielgud Theatre

Kelli O’Hara for The King And I at The London Palladium

Adrienne Warren for Tina – The Tina Turner Musical at Aldwych Theatre

BEST REVIVAL

King Lear at Duke of York’s Theatre

The Lieutenant Of Inishmore at Noël Coward Theatre

The Price at Wyndham’s Theatre

Summer And Smoke at Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre

BEST NEW COMEDY

Home, I’m Darling at National Theatre – Dorfman and Duke of York’s Theatre

Nine Night at National Theatre – Dorfman and Trafalgar Studios 1

Quiz at Noël Coward Theatre

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN AFFILIATE THEATRE

Moe Bar-El for his performance in Every Day I Make Greatness Happen at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

Flesh And Bone at Soho Theatre

Jonathan Hyde for his performance in Gently Down The Stream at Park Theatre

The Phlebotomist at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

Athena Stevens for Schism at Park Theatre

AWARD FOR BEST LIGHTING DESIGN

Neil Austin for Company at Gielgud Theatre

Howell Binkley for Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre

Jon Clark for The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre

Lee Curran for Summer And Smoke at Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre

BEST SOUND DESIGN

Paul Arditti and Christopher Reid for The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre

Mike Beer for A Monster Calls at The Old Vic

Carolyn Downing for Summer And Smoke at Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre

Gareth Owen for Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre

Nick Powell for The Lehman Trilogy at National Theatre – Lyttelton

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Fly Davis for Caroline, Or Change at Playhouse Theatre

Anna Fleischle for Home, I’m Darling at National Theatre – Dorfman and Duke of York’s Theatre

Gabriella Slade for Six at Arts Theatre

Catherine Zuber for The King And I at The London Palladium

AWARD FOR BEST SET DESIGN

Bunny Christie for Company at Gielgud Theatre

Bob Crowley for The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre

Es Devlin for The Lehman Trilogy at National Theatre – Lyttelton

Anna Fleischle for Home, I’m Darling at National Theatre – Dorfman and Duke of York’s Theatre

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Keir Charles for Quiz at Noël Coward Theatre

Adam Gillen for Killer Joe at Trafalgar Studios 1

Adrian Lukis for The Price at Wyndham’s Theatre

Malcolm Sinclair for Pressure at Ambassadors Theatre

Chris Walley for The Lieutenant Of Inishmore at Noël Coward Theatre

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Susan Brown for Home, I’m Darling at National Theatre – Dorfman and Duke of York’s Theatre

Monica Dolan for All About Eve at Noël Coward Theatre

Cecilia Noble for Nine Night at National Theatre – Dorfman and Trafalgar Studios 1

Vanessa Redgrave for The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre

BEST NEW OPERA PRODUCTION

Katya Kabanova at Royal Opera House

Lessons In Love And Violence at Royal Opera House

The Turn Of The Screw at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA

David Butt Philip and Roderick Williams for their performances in War Requiem at London Coliseum

The English National Opera chorus for Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall

Andris Nelsons for his conducting of Lohengrin at Royal Opera House

The ensemble of Porgy And Bess at London Coliseum

BEST ACTOR

Adam Godley, Ben Miles and Simon Russell Beale for The Lehman Trilogy at National Theatre – Lyttelton

Arinzé Kene for Misty at Trafalgar Studios 1

Ian McKellen for King Lear at Duke of York’s Theatre

Kyle Soller for The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre

David Suchet for The Price at Wyndham’s Theatre

BEST ACTRESS

Gillian Anderson for All About Eve at Noël Coward Theatre

Eileen Atkins for The Height Of The Storm at Wyndham’s Theatre

Patsy Ferran for Summer And Smoke at Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre

Sophie Okonedo for Antony And Cleopatra at National Theatre – Olivier

Katherine Parkinson for Home, I’m Darling at National Theatre – Dorfman and Duke of York’s Theatre

SIR PETER HALL AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR

Christopher Ashley for Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre

Stephen Daldry for The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre

Marianne Elliott for Company at Gielgud Theatre

Rebecca Frecknall for Summer And Smoke at Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre

Sam Mendes for The Lehman Trilogy at National Theatre – Lyttelton

BEST NEW PLAY

The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre

The Lehman Trilogy at National Theatre – Lyttelton

Misty at Trafalgar Studios 1

Sweat at Donmar Warehouse

BEST NEW MUSICAL

Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre

Fun Home at Young Vic

Six at Arts Theatre

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical at Aldwych Theatre

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