OLIVIERS 2012: Live Blog As It Happened - Big Wins For MATILDA!
So! That's it for the 2012 Olivier Awards. It's been an epic night for Matilda (the four little girls winning Best Actress was probably my highlight, to be honest, and I'm pretty allergic to children in musicals), and they'll grab the headlines. But don't forget the recognition of the work done at the Donmar, the National and at Regent's Park. What did you think of the winners? Deserved - or was someone robbed? Let me know in the comments.
And on that note - I'll see you same place, same time next year!
9.12pm: And our closing performance for the evening is from The Lion King - not nominated this year, but it's a continuation of the celebration of Sir Tim's work.
9.10pm: Staunton and Ball are starting to wrap it all up now, including a well-timed comedy plug for Sweeney Todd.
9.09pm: He makes a gracious (and mercifully short and well-structured) speech, thanking his former collaborators and with a gallant nod to Paige's performance. Nicely done.
9.03pm: Paige makes a lot of innuendo about her former squeeze before welcoming Sir Tim Rice to the stage for his acceptance speech.
8.57pm: Elaine Paige sings Don't Cry For Me, Argentina. She looks very happy.
8.56pm: Andrew Lloyd Webber makes an appearance via video link to tell Tim Rice that he's sorry he's not there, but he's making a TV show "that I know you won't approve of", ie Superstar.
8.53pm: That was exciting. Cue all the debates about whether or not Chess will ever make a successful West End return. If it does, they'll cast Florence and Svetlana a generation and a half younger than McCarthy and Friedman, I suspect.
8.50pm: And the final award is the second special award, which goes to Sir Tim Rice. Siobhan McCarthy and Maria Friedman...are going to sing I KNOW HIM SO WELL!
8.47pm: The penultimate award is for Best New Play, and Tyne Daly comes back to present it. She seems as puzzled to be reprising her presenting role as everyone else is to see her there. The award goes to Collaborators, following a weird interlude where Daly says, "Laurence. Olivier."
8.41pm: Jim Carter, Imelda Staunton's husband, accompanies Barbara Windsor hand-in-hand to the stage. "BARBARA WINDSOR AND MY HUSBAND!" shouts La Staunton. They're here to present Best New Musical - to Matilda, obviously. "I just kissed Barbara Windsor!" squeals Dennis Kelly. Tim Minchin pays handsome tribute to all the other nominees, and also thanks the two Matildas who originated the role out-of-town but didn't transfer "due to growing".
8.36pm: Ronan and Kimba are back to present Best Actress in a Musical to the Matildas. They all go crazy, bless their little hearts. I could actually cry. They are so excited none of them can get their words out. One of them shouts, "BREATHE, CLEO, BREATHE!" at Cleo Demetriou, the first one to get a shot at the mic.
8.34pm: Right, back to reality. Hayley Atwell, spilling out of a very tight dress, is going to present Best Actor in a Musical - to Bertie Carvel of Matilda, which is probably the most expected and most deserved result of the evening. He says that the last time he was nominated for the award, Michael Ball won it - for playing a woman. Carvel is an extraordinary actor and a nice man - have a read of my interview with him, conducted when Matilda was out in Stratford and about to transfer.
8.30pm: He's now joined by Kimberley Walsh (Princess Fiona in Shrek, and one-fifth of Girls Aloud) to sing No Matter What. It is not good. Keating is not in tune. Walsh sounds a little thin and reedy.
8.27pm: Apparently Ronan Keating is this year's special surprise guest. He is singing I'll Never Fall In Love Again (from Promises, Promises, which is not currently running in London), and breathing in the middle of words. Singers in the audience must be cringing. Is this a public audition for some forthcoming role? Expect to see Keating as Billy Flynn some time soon, then.
8.25pm: Time for Best Musical Revival, finally, and it goes to Crazy For You.
8.20pm: Katherine Kelly and Jonathan Edwards (yes, the athlete - he says he'd like to be able to act, sing and dance, rather than hop, skip and jump) are presenting Best Supporting Performance in a Musical. It goes to Nigel Harman for Shrek - I'm really pleased about that, he was truly excellent, very funny and with a wonderful voice.
8.17pm: Will Young is presenting the award for Best Theatre Choreographer. He says he wanted to be a ballet dancer when he was a child and it's a great honour to be on stage there. He then goes into a story about having creative differences with his director of Crazy For You at university, which falls slightly flat. Come on, give us the prizes! And the winner is - Peter Darling for his work on Matilda.
8.14pm: And now the cast of South Pacific, led by the Evil Trevor from EastEnders, singing There Is Nothing Like A Dame. More Morecambe and Wise references! Perhaps newsreaders will run on and join them shortly.
8.10pm: More extracts from Best Musical Revival - Sophie Evans is singing the role of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, which she took over from Danielle Hope after understudying and alternating since the start of the run.
8.05pm: Time for the opera awards. Best new opera production is the ENO's Castor and Pollux; outstanding achievement in opera goes to the ENO as well.
8.03pm: I do like Derren Brown. I have been one of the on-stage "victims" to which he refers. He gives a lovely self-effacing speech before plugging his next London run.
8.01pm: Imelda Staunton introduces Zach Braff with a joke I fear he will not understand - "starring in a play what he wrote". Poor Americans, not knowing Morecambe and Wise's oeuvre. He and Susannah Fielding are presenting the award for Best Entertainment. The winner is Derren Brown, for Svengali.
7.58pm: And Clare Foster arrives to take us through I Got Rhythm, from Crazy For You, and leading the company in some more brilliant tap-dancing. There really has been a tap-dancing revival in the West End in recent years, led by the Regent's Park crew.
7.54pm: Time for some extracts from the shows nominated for Best Musical Revival - beginning with some gorgeous tap-dancing work from Adam Cooper and the gang from Singin' In The Rain.
7.52pm: So we have the always sad montage of those who have left us in the past twelve months - too many to list, really.
7.49pm: Back in the auditorium, and more sound problems - really inappropriately causing giggles as we're about to move into the bit where we remember all those we've lost from the theatre world this year.
7.46pm: The Les Miserables cast perform One Day More. You can't tell how tiny this cast all are when they're on television. Seriously. They're tiny. And then they copy the triangle-marching flag-waving choreography that Shrek showed us earlier. Liam Tamne is at the front of the triangle and clutching the award. Bless him.
7.43pm: Brian May (representing We Will Rock You) and Elaine Paige (representing herself) are actually giving the award, and it goes to Les Miserables!
7.42pm: Except not, because Staunton and Ball are in the Piazza about to present the Audience Award!
7.40pm: She talks a bit more about the blinkin' NT Live project, and we're about to return to the auditorium for the second half!
7.36pm: Anneka Rice reminds us what a thrilling evening we've had so far, and then starts reminiscing about her time as stage-mum when her youngest son was in the cast of Oliver!
7.30pm: A live performance from the cast of Jersey Boys in the Piazza! They're singing a medley, as they tend to do on these occasions.
7.27pm: The Billy Elliott performance (Ryan Collinson) was apparently affected by sound problems. That poor boy - his mic is cutting in and out. Still, the dance break is what he's there for, and that goes well.
7.21pm: An extract from the Royal Ballet's Limen, and then we're into the interval - Anneka Rice is on the balcony, looking out on to the Covent Garden Piazza, and we get to see highlights from this afternoon's performances on stage out there. Rachel Tucker sang The Wizard And I (she's not in the green - she's in a black dress with a gold belt).
7.10pm: "That felt longer than the show," says Ball. Man has a point. Zoe Wanamaker then comes on to the stage to present the first Special Award of the evening to Dame Monica Mason. Meanwhile, bless Sheridan Smith, who's just woken up in Australia for her 4am call, and has tweeted: "Just getting up in Australia to go to work & have texts & tweets saying I won... at the Olivier Awards... please tell me I'm not dreaming?!" When she gets it confirmed, she responds: "Oh my goodness thank you so so much, I'm in an Australian hotel room on my own crying with joy :) what an honour,thank you X"
7.07pm: And now there's a film tribute to The Mousetrap, the world's longest-running show, as it has been for the past 55 years.
7.01pm: There's an odd awkward pause, and apparently Suchet was supposed to say something, but instead Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen does a little tribute to The Mousetrap, in its 60th year.
6.58pm: David Suchet and Laurie Metcalf wrap up this half of the proceedings by presenting Best Actor to Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller for their dual roles in Frankenstein. JLM is the one who collects the award - he has notes, because, he explains, "I am not as cool as Ruth Wilson."
6.55pm: Jack Davenport (you Americans will know him from Smash; those of us of a certain age in the UK know him best as Steve in Coupling and Miles in This Life) is presenting Best Actress in a Play - he says he's going to put them out of their misery, and announces Ruth Wilson as the winner. She thanks Rob Ashford, calling him her "lucky charm" and saying that his casting of "a harem of gorgeous, hunky men" makes her life very easy.
6.54pm: Warchus says that creative imagination should be encouraged over literacy and all other school subjects. I suspect that will not be adopted as official educational policy.
6.50pm: Fortunately, Twitter still exists. Matthew Warchus wins Best Director for Matilda. And then, hooray, the TV coverage comes back! Warchus says that two of his productions are nominated in the Best Musical category, but he loves them both equally, like children. He thanks the Matildas and also Paul Kaye and Lauren Ward, who are leaving the show, for their performances.
6.49pm: Feed still down. The BBC put up their little notice saying they are sorry for the technical problems. Imagine the drama if this happened at the Tonys. Seriously.
6.43pm: Outstanding Achievement in Dance up next, and that goes to Edward Watson. He begins to thank the rest of the cast - and then the screen goes black. This is not a technical fault on my part, I hasten to add - the BBC logo and the red button option are still visible. Just no moving pictures or sound.
6.43pm: Strictly winners Tom Chambers (soon to be seen in Top Hat) and Kara Tointon (or Pygmalion and Absent Friends) are presenting the award for Best New Dance Production, and it goes to Desh. "Watch out, the Indians are coming, and these ones don't have hair," declares the producer.
6.35pm: More musical inserts - Sarah Lancashire and the cast of Betty Blue Eyes first up, and then the cast of Shrek to perform Freak Flag. I do enjoy Shrek. So sue me.
6.33pm: Roadkill wins for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre at Theatre Royal Stratford East.
6.29pm: Sound design and lighting design now, presented by Jodie Whittaker and Harry Lloyd. For the lighting design, Lloyd says this is the most important award - "Without these guys, we are just plonkers on a stage," he says. Bruno Poet wins best lighting for Frankenstein; and Simon Baker wins sound for Matilda.
6.25pm: All four Matildas are about to perform together "for the one and only time", says Ball.
6.20pm: Freddie Fox is the next presenter. He's giving out the awards for costume design and set design. Peter McKintosh wins costume design for Crazy for You; and Rob Howell wins set design for Matilda.
6.16pm: Lenny Henry and Tyne Daly - most random couple ever - are presenting the next category, Best Supporting Performance. Henry says the Royal Opera House is like "being in Elton John's downstairs toilet". Daly admires that men and women are in the same category, and Henry announces that Sheridan Smith is the winner. She's filming at the moment, though, so Trevor Nunn will collect on her behalf. Her parents are in the audience somewhere, according to her Twitter earlier...
6.12pm: Ball and Staunton pretend to be at the potter's wheel, a la Swayze and Moore. Then James McAvoy arrives to present Best Revival of A Play...Anna Christie. Rob Ashford claims the prize and thanks Michael Grandage and the Donmar for giving him the opportunity to work here and learn from the best.
6.09pm: First nominated show to perform this evening is Ghost. Sharon D Clarke is in bright pink and belting it out.
6.08pm: On Twitter, Rebecca Caine marks the arrival of Ball to the stage thus: "I'VE SNOGGED THAT MAN!!!!!"
6.06pm: Now that's over, we welcome Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, strutting to the stage through the audience. They are cackling already. Ball makes a joke about giving out 25 awards - one an hour - and promises a surprise or two. "Are you going to sing?" asks Staunton. "No, I'm not," he replies. "Well, there's a surprise," she concludes.
6pm: We begin...with We Will Rock You. They are singing Bohemian Rhapsody, and Brian May is of course there to perform THAT solo.
5.58pm: The cameras are about to move inside - the auditorium is packed, and this is getting exciting!
5.55pm: Barbara Windsor says, "Theatre is my first love." She's presenting Best Musical tonight, and her favourite of the last year is Matilda.
5.53pm: Nigel Harman has lovely quiffy flyaway hair on the red carpet. He says his knees are fine after playing Farquaad in Shrek, but his back sometimes ached. "I like being the baddie, especially if he's camp and likes musical theatre," he says.
5.48pm: A bit of a mess-up on the captioning front, referring to "Johnny Lee Miller", but the man himself talks very captivatingly about sharing a role and a nomination in Frankenstein. "I kinda like creaturing," he says.
5.46pm: Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin talk about their shared work on Matilda. "I literally love this production," says Anneka. Minchin says they may have been nominated in ten categories but they've made a deal to win three. Kelly interrupts and says that no awards would be best because then there's a real story.
5.44pm: Quick montage of the nominees for the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award.
5.41pm: Anneka talks to Tim Rice. They have a little skit wherethey refer to each other as siblings. They are not in fact siblings. Sir Tim squeals about Evita and Superstar "doing OK" on Broadway, and says there is no theatre in London for his new show From Here To Eternity at the moment.
5.40pm: It's David Haig on the red carpet now. After his role in The Thick of It, I'm half-expecting him to explode with expletives, but it's OK, he's in full tux and is of course a paragon of gentlemanly behaviour. He says he won't mind if he doesn't win because his category is so strong this year.
5.38pm: Nominee Mark Addy praises the Travelex £12 theatre season. That used to be £10, didn't it? He is sort of defending ticket prices by saying that the quality of theatre is very high.
5.35pm: David Suchet is going to present the Best Actor award tonight and praises the category as a "fantastic" line-up. He says he thinks that theatre is getting better and better. Anneka mocks him for repeatedly working at the Apollo Theatre and suggests he ought to get out more.
5.33pm: On the red carpet, Celia Imrie, in a rather gorgeously daring asymmetric dress, declares, "I'd do anything for a laugh."
5.30pm: Here we go! Anneka Rice is red-carpet roaming and has not yet accosted anyone by rugby-tackling them and reminiscing about good times on some TV programme or another. They're beginning with a montage of highlights from last year. Presumably not including Nancy Carroll's winner's speech.
5.20pm: For those of you dreading a repeat of last year's television coverage, in which a broom cupboard and a box of grapes played starring roles, I suspect this year will be much stronger - in a better venue, for starters, and they'll have taken the outrage on board. Fear not.
5pm: It's Sunday 15th April, it's just after 5pm British Summer Time, and there's just been a huge downpour in London. Never mind, though, because it's brightened up now - all the better to admire the arrivals at the 2012 Olivier Awards!
The BBC's TV coverage begins at 5.30pm, with Anneka Rice (for US readers: she's a TV presenter most fondly remembered over here for Treasure Hunt) talking to the nominees and guests, and then we move inside the Royal Opera House for the ceremony, hosted again by Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.