Nicole Scherzinger and Broadway-bound ‘Sunset Boulevard’ win big at London's Olivier awards.

On Sunday at the London stage Olivier Awards, a bold remount of Hollywood film noir musical “Sunset Boulevard” won seven awards, including best musical revival and best actress for Nicole Scherzinger. Sarah Snook and Mark Gatiss won acting awards, and soccer-themed state-of-the-nation drama “Dear England” won best new play.  

Scherzinger was lauded for her portrayal of aging silver screen icon Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Sunset Boulevard” three decades after its 1990s debut. Her co-star Tom Francis won best actor for playing a struggling novelist intrigued to Desmond.  

Jamie Lloyd won Oliviers for sound and lighting design and directed the technically unique production, which blends live video with theatrical action. Lloyd predicted it would “take Broadway by storm” when it opens later this year.  

Growing up in Kentucky, Scherzinger stated, “I always wanted to be a singer and do musicals.” I dreamed of so many roles I wanted to do — and honestly this role, Norma Desmond, was not one of them,” she added. “But God works mysteriously.”  

“Operation Mincemeat,” a word-of-mouth sensation based on a World War II intelligence operation that misled the Nazis, won the best new musical award. The show began in a small theater in 2019 and has grown to larger venues, garnering praise. “Stranger Things: The First Shadow,” a lavish prequel to the Netflix eerie thriller, won best new entertainment or comedy.  

After recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oliviers—the West End's Tony Awards—are celebrating a record year for new shows. Many winners criticized rising theater ticket prices and arts education cuts that are pushing working-class talent out of theater careers and audiences.  

James Graham, writer from a small mining town, observed that without encouraging kids to attend shows, they will not build the habit or experience. “So I am worried.”  Royal Albert Hall, “Ted Lasso” star Hannah Waddingham presided over a joyful ceremony, opening with “Anything Goes” with the London Community Gospel Choir. The program featured performances from “Guys and Dolls,” “Hadestown,” and homegrown favorite “The Little Big Things.”  

The Laurence Olivier Awards honor theater, opera, and dance achievements and were established in 1976. Stage pros and audience members vote on winners. Snook, who portrays more than two dozen characters in Oscar Wilde's cautionary story "The Picture of Dorian Gray," won the award for best actress in a play over Sarah Jessica Parker and Sophie Okonedo.  

Backstage, the Emmy-winning Australian comedian said the solo stage show was “so much harder” than TV. “I’ve never done anything harder than this,” Snook remarked, asking herself, “why am I doing a 60,000-word monologue with an 8-month-old baby?” She said she studied her play lines while breastfeeding her daughter during the final season of “Succession.”

Gatiss, co-creator of “Sherlock” on BBC TV, got the best actor award for playing theater great John Gielgud in Jack Thorne's play about how he and Richard Burton struggled to stage a 1964 “Hamlet” production. Gatiss remembered Gielgud calling awards ceremonies “vulgar.”  

“I’m very, very thrilled to be in such wonderfully vulgar company,” he remarked. Gatiss defeated “Dear England” star Joseph Fiennes and Andrew Scott, the solo show “Vanya” favorites. Simon Stephens' Anton Chekhov adaptation won best revival. Will Close won best supporting actor in a play for playing Harry Kane in “Dear England.”

Haydn Gwynne, who died in October, won the best supporting actress award for her final theatrical role in “When Winston Went to War with the Wireless,” about early British radio. Amy Trigg and Jak Malone won for supporting roles in musicals “The Little Big Things” and “Operation Mincemeat.” The National Theatre, which turned 60 in 2023, was honored with a star-studded cast performance of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”  

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