Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has broken records at the 2017 Olivier Awards winning nine awards including Best New Play. The previous record was shared by Matilda the Musical and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, both of which took home seven awards.
Noma Dumezweni, Paul Thornley and Jamie Parker in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photograph © Manuel Harlan
Tim Minchin’s Groundhog Day, written with Danny Rubin – which received a five-star review from Limelight Editor Clive Paget – was named Best New Musical, while the Young Vic production of Lorca’s 1934 tragedy Yerma, directed by Australian Simon Stone, was named Best Revival.
The Oliviers are the UK’s most prestigious theatre awards. Presented annually by the Society of London Theatre to recognise excellence in professional theatre in London, the 2017 Oliviers were presented on Sunday at the Royal Albert Hall.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opened last July to five-star reviews and sell-out houses. It is still playing in the West End and is slated to open on Broadway in early 2018. Written by Jack Thorne, from an original story by Thorne, JK Rowling and the show’s director John Tiffany, the two-part wizarding saga features a middle-aged Harry Potter, now married to Hermione, whose son Albus heads off to Hogwarts for his first year.
Tiffany was named Best Director, while the show won acting awards for Jamie Parker who plays Harry Potter, Noma Dumezweni who plays Hermione Grainger, and Anthony Boyle who plays Scorpius Malfoy. Dumezweni, who arrived in the UK as a refugee, was initially the target of online racists when her casting was announced. Accepting her award, she said that she had been buoyed by the number of young actors who had said to her: “I am so pleased that I can see a version of myself on stage.”
The Best Actress award went to Billie Piper (who played Doctor Who’s assistant from 2005 to 2103) for her performance in Simon Stone’s production of Yerma, pipping Glenda Jackson, who was tipped to win for portrayal of King Lear, marking her return to the stage after a 25-year absence. Yerma also featured Australian actor Brendan Cowell.
Andy Karl in Groundhog Day. Photograph © Manuel Harlan
In the musical categories, the Old Vic production of Groundhog Day not only took home Best New Musical but won Best Actor in a Musical for Andy Karl’s portrayal of jaundiced weatherman Phil Connors, played in the film by Bill Murray. The musical is currently in previews on Broadway. The Regent’s Park production of Jesus Christ Superstar won Best Musical Revival, and Dreamgirls took home two awards: Best Actress in a Musical for Amber Riley, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Adam J Bernard.
In Opera, English National Opera won Best New Opera for its production of Akhnaten, while Mark Wigglesworth, a former Music Director at the ENO, was recognised for his Outstanding Achievement in Opera for his conducting of Don Giovanni and Lulu.
In Dance, Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young’s Betroffenheit – which had a sell-out season at this year’s Adelaide Festival – won Best New Production. English National Ballet won the Outstanding Achievement award for its expansion of their repertoire with Akram Khan’s Giselle and a triple bill called She Said featuring new works by female choreographers Aszure Barton, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Yabin Wang.
Best New Comedy went to The National Theatre of Scotland for its production of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, which played at the 2016 Melbourne Festival and which goes into the West End next month. Matthew Bourne (whose Lord of the Flies has just been seen at the Melbourne Arts Centre) was named Best Theatre Choreographer for The Red Shoes, which was named Best Entertainment and Family.
Sir Kenneth Branagh was presented with a special award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British Theatre.
As reported in The Guardian, speakers throughout the evening repeatedly spoke out against the erosion of arts education in the UK, and warned of the repercussions when the arts are not made available to schoolchildren.
“Government policies think that good people will out, it’s not true,” said John Tiffany. “I’m doing what I’m doing because of free guitar lessons, I had a grant to go to university… if I was graduating from high school now I certainly wouldn’t be holding this.”
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
Best Actress: Billie Piper for Yerma (Young Vic)
Best New Comedy: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (National Theatre/Dorfman)
Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre: Rotterdam (Trafalgar Studios 2)
White Light Award for Best Lighting Design: Neil Austin for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre)
Best Sound Design: Gareth Fry for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre)
Best Costume Design: Katrina Lindsay for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre)
Blue-i Theatre Technology Award for Best Set Design: Christine Jones for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Anthony Boyle for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Noma Dumezweni for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre)
Best New Opera Production: Akhnaten (London Coliseum)
Outstanding Achievement in Opera: Mark Wigglesworth for his conducting of Don Giovanni and Lulu (London Coliseum)
Best Revival: Yerma (Young Vic)
Best Actor: Jamie Parker for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre)
Virgin Atlantic Best New Play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre)
Best Director: John Tiffany for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre)
Best New Dance Production: Betroffenheit by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young (Sadler’s Wells)
Outstanding Achievement in Dance: English National Ballet for expanding the variety of their repertoire with Akram Khan’s Giselle and She Said (Sadler’s Wells)
Best Theatre Choreographer: Matthew Bourne for The Red Shoes (Sadler’s Wells)
Outstanding Achievement in Music: School of Rock the Musical (New London Theatre)
Best Entertainment and Family: Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes (Sadler’s Wells)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical: Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical: Rebecca Trehearn for Show Boat (New London Theatre)
Magic Radio Best Musical Revival: Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre)
Best Actor in a Musical: Andy Karl for Groundhog Day (The Old Vic)
Best Actress in a Musical: Amber Riley for Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre)
Mastercard Best New Musical: Groundhog Day (The Old Vic)
Special Award Winner: Kenneth Branagh