The Priory has won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, while the dance accolades of the evening have been awarded to Stephen Mear for Best Theatre Choreographer, Goldberg for Best New Dance Production and Rambert Dance Company for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.
Staged in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court last December, Michael Wynne’s The Priory told the story of a group of thirtysomething friends who had gathered at a country retreat to see in the New Year, with rather more stressful and sinister results than expected. Taking a microscope to 21st century dilemmas and early mid-life crisis, Wynne’s comedy drama boasted a stellar cast including Rupert Penry-Jones, Jessica Hynes, Joseph Millson and Rachael Stirling. First time Laurence Olivier Award winner Wynne’s other plays include The People Are Friendly and The Knocky for the Royal Court.
The Priory fought off competition from Calendar Girls by Tim Firth, England People Very Nice by Richard Bean and Jez Butterworth’s Parlour Song to take home the coveted award.
After missing out earlier on the Best Costume Design Award, Holly, Dolly! has triumphed in the Best Theatre Choreographer category thanks to Mear’s work on the show. Staged at the Open Air theatre last summer, Samantha Spiro – who is nominated in the Best Actress in a Musical or Entertainment category for her role – starred as Dolly in Timothy Sheader’s production about the meddling matchmaker. The musical was critically acclaimed for its nostalgic and flamboyant staging, with Mear’s choreography noted in many reviews as a stand out feature.
This is Mear’s second Laurence Olivier Award having won in 2005 for West End musical Mary Poppins which he worked on with Matthew Bourne. Mear’s this year triumphed over with Bourne, who was nominated for Oliver!. Other choreographers nominated in the category were Bill T Jones for Spring Awakening and Anthony Van Laast for Sister Act.
Created by choreographer Kim Brandstrup and Royal Ballet principal dancer Tamara Rojo, Goldberg took home the Best New Dance Production. Staged in the Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House last autumn, the work took on an unconventional look at the rehearsal period for dancers, starring the Spanish prima ballerina Rojo. Set in a studio, the dancers followed a video showing them the routine, as well as stretching and repeating positions as they perfected the choreography.
This is the internationally acclaimed Brandstrup’s first Laurence Olivier Award win since 1989 when he took home the Outstanding Achievement in Dance Award. At this year’s ceremony he triumphed over productions by Russell Maliphant (Afterlight), Birmingham Royal Ballet (E=MC²), Rambert Dance Company (A Linha Curva) and Fabulous Beast (The Rite Of Spring).
Rambert Dance Company did not leave empty handed however, winning the Outstanding Achievement in Dance Award for an outstanding year of new work. The company, which was formed in the early 20th century, is Britain’s flagship contemporary touring dance company and is known for its innovative and exciting style. Committed to creating work for the next generation of dancers, the company is constantly evolving and working with new choreographers. As well as their nominated production A Linha Curve, Rambert Dance Company also debuted new works including The Comedy Of Change and Tread Softly this year. The company is no stranger to the Laurence Olivier Awards having previously won Outstanding Achievement in Dance in 1997, as well being awarded the Best New Dance Production in 2005 for Swamp.
The renowned company fought off tough competition from dancer Colin Dunn and lighting designer Michael Hulls.