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Company wins four Olivier Awards

Company has won Olivier Awards at this evening's event for Set Designer Bunny Christie (Best Set Design), Patti LuPone (Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical) and Jonathan Bailey (Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical), while the show itself took home Best Musical Revival.

Rosalie Craig missed out on Best Actress in a Musical, which went to Sharon D Clarke for her career-defining performance in Caroline, Or Change, and Richard Fleeshman was nominated in the same supporting category as Johnny Bailey. Choreographer Liam Steel and Lighting Designer Neil Austin were also nominated, losing out to Come From Away's Kelly Devine and The Inheritance's Jon Clarke respectively.

Marianne Elliott, recognised in the Best Director category, also lost out to Stephen Daldry for his six-hour-long epic The Inheritance.

Company was, along with Come From Away, the most nominated show, with nine nods, and both productions (and The Inheritance) won four statuettes each – the most of the evening.

The last Sondheim show to be recognised at the Oliviers was the National Theatre's Follies, which received ten nominations and won two: Best Musical Revival and Best Costume Design (for Vicki Mortimer).

Prior to this, Sondheim won the 2011 Society Special Award for achievements in commercial British theatre, (and in that same year, Into the Woods at Regent's Park Open Air won Best Musical Revival, beating Passion at the Donmar).

Sondheim holds the record for the most Olivier wins in the category of Best New Musical, with awards for:

  • Sweeney Todd (1980)

  • Follies (1987)

  • Candide (1988, considered to qualify as a Sondheim show by the Society of London Theatre)

  • Sunday in the Park with George (1991) and

  • Merrily We Roll Along (2001).

In second place, with three wins, is Andrew Lloyd Webber (Evita, Cats, Phantom of the Opera).

The only other artists to have won five competitive awards are Ian McKellen, Alan Bennett and Richard Eyre.

Revivals of Sondheim shows have also figured well in Olivier history, with Best Musical Revival wins for:

  • Sweeney Todd in 1994 (National) and 2013 (Adelphi)

  • Pacific Overtures in 2004 (Donmar)

  • Sunday in the Park with George in 2007 (Wyndham's)

  • Into the Woods in 2011 (Regent's Park)

  • Merrily We Roll Along in 2014 (Harold Pinter) and

  • Follies in 2018 (National)

  • (And Candide in 2000 at the ENO, if you're wont to include it.)

The two gongs for Sweeney represent the most Best Musical Revival wins of any revival.

As for Best Actor in a Musical, Sondheim shows have seen wins for:

  • Dennis Quilley (Sweeney in Sweeney Todd, 1980)

  • Philip Quast (George in Sunday in the Park with George, 1991)

  • Henry Goodman (Charles Guiteau in Assassins, 1993)

  • Alun Armstrong (Sweeney in Sweeney Todd, 1994)

  • Adrian Lester (Robert in Company, 1996)

  • Simon Russell Beale (Dr Pangloss in Candide, 2000)

  • Daniel Evans (Charley Kringas in Merrily We Roll Along, 2001, and George in Sunday, 2007) and

  • David Thaxton (Giorgio in Passion, 2011).

The three awards for the character of Sweeney Todd make the role of the Demon Barber the most celebrated in Olivier history (closely followed by the two awards for George Seurat in Sunday in the Park with George).

Best Actress in a Musical awards have gone to:

  • Patricia Routledge (Old Lady in Candide, 1980)

  • Imelda Staunton (Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, 1991, Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, 2013, and Mama Rose in Gypsy, 2016)

  • Julia McKenzie (Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, 1994)

  • Judi Dench (Desirée Armfeldt in A Little Night Music, 1996) – and also won Best Actress

  • Maria Friedman (Fosca in Passion, 1997)

  • Sophie Thompson (Baker's Wife, Into the Woods, 1999)

  • Samantha Spiro (Mary Flynn in Merrily, 2001)

  • Jenna Russell (Dot/Marie in Sunday in the Park with George, 2007)

Imelda Staunton's three wins is also a record, with Julia McKenzie, Samantha Spiro and Maria Friedman all in second place with two wins, though not all for Sondheim roles. (Imelda is also the most nominated in this category, with seven nods.)

Mrs Lovett and The Baker's Wife have both recorded the most wins by a character with two – an achievement shared with Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady and Miss Adelaide from Guys and Dolls.

The award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role (awarded up until 2015, at which point it was split into Actor and Actress) was won only once for a Sondheim character, and that went to the late Sheila Gish for her coruscating Joanne in the Donmar Company (1996). Since the split, Lara Pulver has joined Patti LuPone and Johnny Bailey in a Best Supporting Role, for her Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy (2015).

The short-lived category of Best Director of a Musical saw two Sondheim-related wins, for Richard Jones (Into the Woods, 1991) and Declan Donnellan (Sweeney Todd, 1994). In the overall category of Best Director – contested between directors of musicals and plays – Sam Mendes won in 1996 for his Company at the Donmar.

Although she didn't win this time, Company Director Marianne Elliott is one of only three women to have won in this category (for Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, 2013), along with Deborah Warner (Titus Andronicus, 1988) and Lyndsey Turner (Chimerica, 2014).

Follies aside, Sondheim shows aren't particularly known for their choreography, and to date only one show has taken the award for Best Choreography: Pacific Overtures (2004), with the statuette going to Karen Bruce.

Bill Deamer was, of course, rightly nominated for his Follies choreography in 2018, and Liam Steel this year for Company, but the only other two nods for a Sondheim show came in 2016 (Stephen Mear for Gypsy), 2001 (Peter Darling for Merrily, and Candide in 2000) and 1996 (Wayne McGregor for A Little Night Music).

And, to be completist (!), other Olivier wins came for:

  • Vicki Mortimer (Best Costume Design) for Follies at the National in 2018

  • Gareth Owen (Best Sound Design) for Merrily in 2015

  • David Farley and Timothy Bird (Best Set Design) thanks to their ground-breaking work on Sunday in the Park with George at the Menier then Wyndham's in 2007

  • Hugh Vanstone (Best Lighting Design) for Pacific Overtures in 2004

Have I missed anyone out?!


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