NY1's Frank DiLella is in London to cover the Olivier Awards. He sets the stage for the biggest night in London theatre - and how it ties back to the Great White Way.
Greetings from across the pond!
For the past week, London’s West End has been abuzz in anticipation of theater's biggest night. Sorry, theatre – I am in the U.K. after all!
On Sunday evening, London’s equivalent of Broadway’s Tony Awards, the Oliviers, will be handed out at the historic Royal Albert Hall. For the second year in a row, I’ve been asked to co-host the official red carpet show, but before I do, I’m studying and playing catch-up with shows in preparation for the main event.
As I go down the list of this year’s nominees, it’s hard not to reflect on the relationship between Broadway and The West End. American-born shows like “A Chorus Line,” “42nd Street,” “Crazy For You,” “Jitney,” “The Producers,” “Kinky Boots” and “The Book of Mormon” have all earned Oliviers, while UK-based productions like “Evita,” “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby,” “Cats,” “Les Miserables,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Billy Elliot,” among others, have all received major honors at the Tonys.
This year is no different. Topping the list and breaking the record with the most nominations in Olivier history - 13! - is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece “Hamilton,” a show that shines a spotlight on an American founding father. Also in the best new musical category are two other American imports: a revamped version of Susan Stroman and Mel Brooks' “Young Frankenstein,” and the 2015 Tony-nominated Gershwin tuner “An American in Paris.”
In addition, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” and “Girl From The North Country” are up for top musical honors as well. “Jamie” is based on a BBC documentary about a boy who wants to go to his senior prom in a dress. The show features direction by frequent Broadway creative Jonathan Butterell (“Nine,” “Assassins,” “The Light in the Piazza”). “Girl From The North Country” is a new musical that’s set in Duluth during the Great Depression and has a book by Broadway regular and Irish-born Conor McPherson, plus music from the songbook of the great Bob Dylan.
In the Best Play category, the 2017 Tony-winning work “Oslo” is up for the top honor against a screen-to-stage adaptation of the American film “Network” and Jez Butterworth’s critically acclaimed drama “The Ferryman.” “The Ferryman” will open up shop on Broadway in the fall, and “Network” is rumored to transfer in the near future as well. James Graham’s “Ink,” about a young Rupert Murdoch, takes the fourth slot.
The National’s acclaimed production of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” which transferred to Broadway last month is up for six nominations including Best Revival, Best Director (Marianne Elliott) and standout performances by Andrew Garfield, James McArdle, and Denise Gough. Expect to see the same folks honored with noms come Tony time too!
In the Best Musical Revival category, three classic American shows are all up for the award: The National’s staging of Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” against “42nd Street” and the Regent’s Park production of “On The Town.”
In a Broadway season that features one of the biggest London imports to date, the nine-time Olivier Award winning two-part play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” there’s no denying that the transatlantic theatrical bond is solid. As for what’s to come on London theatre's biggest night? We’ll know in a few days.
For an exclusive all-access pass, follow me on social - on Twitter and Instagram @fdilella. Also, check out the Olivier Awards Red Carpet Show on Sunday, April 8, and watch ON STAGE on Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m.
See you at the theat-RE!