Douglas Hodge as drag queen Albin in La Cage Aux Folles
And oddly, it turned out to be a triumphant night for a play which seems to have been around for ages.
Black Watch, the acclaimed show based on interviews with soldiers who’d served in Iraq, marched away with four awards, including Best Director and Best New Play.
You’ll have already heard about Black Watch, which opened nearly three years ago in an army drill hall in Edinburgh, and has since toured the world, and been on TV. But the curious thing about the Olivier Awards is their London-centric voting system: until a show’s been on in our fair city, they pretend it doesn’t exist.
So it’ll come as no surprise that David Tennant’s hyped Hamlet failed to win him even a nomination for the Best Actor gong. Despite wowing audiences in Stratford-upon-Avon, he wasn’t on stage for long enough when the piece played London.
But it’s not for us to criticise the occasional burst of London-centricity. We’re happy to see Derek Jacobi’s Malvolio in Twelfth Night take best actor, and the lovely Elena Roger win best actress in a musical for Piaf, which we rather enjoyed. Rewarding Patrick Stewart for his role in Hamlet and the brilliant Lesli Margherita from Zorro with best supporting gongs also gets our seal of approval.
Giving prizes to the RSC’s wonderful Histories Cycle at the Roundhouse (best company performance), and the brilliant La Cage Aux Folles (Douglas Hodge best actor in a musical and best musical revival) also keeps us smiling about how brilliantly varied theatre in London can be.
The night’s losers were the National Theatre (which only got best set for August: Osage County, a play which wasn’t one of their productions) and Covent Garden, with nothing for the Royal Opera or Royal Ballet. All the dance prizes were won by Sadlers’ Wells. (They’re a clever lot.)
Check out the full list of winners and let us know what you think in the comment below.