Olivier Awards: Hip hop musical Hamilton dominates

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The cast of Hamilton at the Olivier awards.
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The cast of Hamilton arrive on the red carpet

Hip hop musical Hamilton has swept the board at the Olivier Awards, picking up seven gongs including best new musical.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the West End hit about founding father Alexander Hamilton, was jointly awarded the outstanding achievement in music prize with orchestrator Alex Lacamoire.

Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston took the best actor prize for Network.

Meanwhile Denise Gough was named best supporting actress for Angels in America.

Gough was not there to collect her award, but in a statement read by actress Ophelia Lovibond, she highlighted the importance of the Time’s Up movement. Several actresses bought feminist activists as their guests.

Jez Butterworth’s play The Ferryman won three awards. They included best new play and best director for Sam Mendes.

Picking up the best new play award, Butterworth said it belonged to everyone who had worked on it. He last won an Olivier more than two decades ago.

“The ceremony felt like a driving test where you’re allowed to get drunk,” he added. “It’s like a wedding, an exam and a party all together.”

The play was inspired by his partner Laura Donnelly’s own family.

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Ophelia Lovibond was joined by Marai Larasi, the executive director of black feminist organisation Imkaan

“It’s her story,” he said backstage. “When I’m writing a story, half comes from within and half from without. Her family’s story just stuck.”

Donnelly said backstage: “I’m thrilled – but I’m in shock. It’s what I dreamt of from childhood so to get to this point is surreal. I think it will take a few days to sink in.”

She said because of the subject matter, she felt a “weight of responsibility I hadn’t in any other job to do it justice, because it was so close to home.”

‘Genuinely thrilled’

The couple are taking The Ferryman to Broadway later this year.

Its star Laura Donnelly was named best actress for her performance as Caitlin in the drama, set in rural Derry in 1981 against the backdrop of The Troubles.

Sam Mendes dedicated his award to late theatre director Howard Davies, saying of directing The Ferryman: “I lost count of the number of times I said: ‘How would Howard do this?'”

He said he was “genuinely, genuinely thrilled”.

Hamilton’s other awards include best actor in a musical for Giles Terera, for his role of Hamilton’s nemesis Aaron Burr, with Michael Jibson picking up best supporting musical actor for playing King George III.

It also won best lighting design, best sound design, and best theatre choreographer.

It failed to break the record for most Olivier Awards set by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last year when it picked up nine.

Bob Dylan-inspired musical Girl from the North Country was also honoured, with Shirley Henderson winning best actress in a musical and Sheila Atim winning best supporting role in a musical.

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Matthew Murphy

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Hamilton uses hip-hop to recreate America’s War of Independence

Bertie Carvel was named best actor in a supporting role for Ink. Its writer James Graham won best new comedy for another play, Labour of Love.

Carvel said of Ink, which is about the birth of The Sun newspaper: “I can and I will take this home and put it on my mantlepiece and take all the credit. But the truth is, I’m standing on the shoulder of giants.”

Angels in America also won The National Theatre an award for best revival, with the Southbank theatre also picking up best musical revival for Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.

David Lan won the special award in recognition of his outstanding contribution for his artistic directorship of the Young Vic.

The Royal Court’s production of Killology won outstanding achievement in affiliate theatre and Dick Whittington won the Olivier for best entertainment and family.

Crystal Pite’s Flight Pattern for the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House won best new dance production. Elsewhere in dance, Francesca Velicu won outstanding performance in dance for her role in Le Sacre Du Printemps at Sadler’s Wells.

The Royal Opera House’s Semiramide won best new opera, with Joyce DiDonato and Daniela Barcellona won outstanding achievement in opera for their performances in the production.

The ceremony took place at the Royal Albert Hall, hosted by Catherine Tate.

Performances included one from past stars of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – including Jason Donovan and Lee Mead – to mark the 50th anniversary of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical.

The cast of Hamilton opened the show, with other performances from nominated musicals including Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Girl from the North Country, Young Frankenstein, Follies and 42nd Street.

Chita Rivera, who performed in the original Broadway production of West Side Story, performed Somewhere, accompanied by other stars of musicals – Groundhog Day’s Andy Karl and Dreamgirls’ Adam J. Bernard – along with the Arts Educational Schools London Choir.

It is the 60th anniversary of West Side Story debuting in London.


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