The winners of the most prestigious event in the UK theatrical calendar, the 36th Olivier Awards with MasterCard, were announced tonight, April 15, 2012, at the Royal Opera House as part of a glamorous and star-studded night of entertainment from the West End's finest talent.
Due to live, uninterrupted coverage of the awards on the BBC TV via Red Button, BBC Radio 2 and streaming online, viewers globally were able to watch the show along with a starry audience at the Royal Opera House which included Zach Braff, Jack Davenport, Katherine Kelly, James McAvoy, Tim Minchin, Sir Patrick Stewart, Kara Tointon, Jodie Whittaker and Will Young.
Highlights of the evening included a montage celebrating the work of Olivier Special Award winner Sir Tim Rice led by Maria Friedman, Siobhan McCarthy, Elaine Paige and the cast of The Lion King, a performance by The Royal Ballet from Wayne McGregor's Limen to mark Dame Monica Mason's Olivier Special Award, theatrically-themed entertainment from Ronan Keating including a duet with Shrek The Musical's Kimberley Walsh, and Brian May joining the cast of We Will Rock You for a special Bohemian Rhapsody. The BBC Concert Orchestra was conducted by David Charles Abell.
Sweeping the board with seven awards, Matilda the Musical stole the show with a joint award for Best Actress in a Musical for young actresses Cleo Demetriou, Kerry Ingram, Sophia Kiely and Eleanor Worthington-Cox (who at ten becomes the youngest ever winner of an Olivier Award). Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin picked up the show's award for Best New Musical, and the musical's other awards included Bertie Carvel for Best Actor in a Musical. James Earl Jones presented Matthew Warchus with the Best Director award via a live link to an Olivier Awards reception in New York celebrating the bond between West End theatre and Broadway. This is a new record number of wins by a single show, beating the previous best of Nicholas Nickleby, which won in six categories in 1980.
The National Theatre's Collaborators by John Hodge was awarded MasterCard Best New Play Award by Tyne Daly. The National Theatre also celebrated wins for Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller who were awarded Best Actor for their critically acclaimed roles in Frankenstein, alternating as Frankenstein and his creature, and Bruno Poet who won Best Lighting Design for the same play.
Ruth Wilson picked up the Best Actress award for her role in Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse, with the play also winning Best Revival.