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Stars’ work celebrated at Olivier Awards as majority of theatres remain closed

‘Hot Priest’ Andrew Scott and actress Sharon D Clarke took home the top prizes at this year’s Olivier Awards, in a virtual ceremony held at The London Palladium.

Hosted by comedian Jason Manford, the event had originally been scheduled for April, but was postponed due to coronavirus.

The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic meant the ceremony which celebrates the best of London theatre took place at a time when the majority of British venues are closed to the public.

Fleabag actor Scott took home the best actor gong for his role in the Old Vic’s Present Laughter, a modern reflection on fame, desire and loneliness.

The Duchess of Cornwall presented Black's special prize
Image: The Duchess of Cornwall presented Don Black’s special prize

Accepting his award remotely he said it was a sense of humour that had kept theatre workers going over the last few months, adding: “I can’t wait to be back on the boards and having a laugh again as soon as we can”.

Clarke – who has also starred in TV shows Holby City and Doctor Who – was named best actress for her performance as Linda Loman in the Young Vic’s Death Of A Salesman.

There in person to pick up her prize, she urged theatre professionals to “know their worth”.

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Pushing for positivity, she said: “We must know what our incredible industry brings not only to the coffers, but to the soul of our nation. Keep the faith people, we will be back.”

Other big winners on the night included Dear Evan Hansen which won three awards including best new musical.

Sam Tutty won for his role in Dear Evan Hanson
Image: Sam Tutty won for his role in Dear Evan Hanson

It tells the story of a young boy with social anxiety, who pretends he was close to a classmate who took his own life.

A reimagining of Romeo and Juliet where the female lead doesn’t die, & Juliet also took three awards including best actress for Miriam-Teak Lee.

It features the music of songwriter Max Martin, who has written tracks for Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Pink, The Backstreet Boys and Ariana Grande.

Marianne Elliott and Miranda Cromwell won the Sir Peter Hall best director award.

Instead of a birthday party, Sir Ian toured UK theatres
Image: Instead of a birthday party, Sir Ian McKellen toured UK theatres

There were also prizes for Sir Ian McKellen and the choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne.

McKellen won his seventh Olivier Award for his 80th Birthday tour, which he joked that he planned because he “didn’t want to have a birthday party”.

Choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne can now boast about having the most Olivier Awards of any one person, winning his ninth.

Miriam-Teak Lee won best actress in a musical
Image: Miriam-Teak Lee won best actress in a musical

He took home the gong for best theatre choreographer alongside Stephen Mear for Mary Poppins.

Lyricist Don Black received a special award from Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Duchess of Cornwall, who urged the theatre industry to “please remain resilient”.

Black is best known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber on musicals including Starlight Express, Sunset Boulevard and Whistle Down The Wind, as well as co-writing Bond theme songs Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever and The Man With The Golden Gun.

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Camilla noted the industry’s recent struggles, praising Black as “a dispeller of woes” and telling performers: “I should like to thank those of you whose profession is in the theatre for your determination and your flexibility.

“Please remain resilient – we need you and we have missed you.”

A full list of Olivier Awards 2020 can be found here.

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