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Six The Musical – Photo by Idil Sukan

Six The Musical - Photo by Idil Sukan

Celebrating Olivier Award nominees for International Women’s Day 2019

Eleni Cashell

By Eleni Cashell First Published 8 March 2019, Last Updated 11 March 2019

Since it’s International Women’s Day, we thought it was only right to celebrate the incredible women who have been nominated for an Olivier Award 2019 with Mastercard this year.

Amongst these 36 talented women, there are 22 actresses,  three set designers, four costume designers, two choreographers, a  lyrist, a composer and two directors.

Here’s a little bit more info about these incredible Olivier-nominated women.


Best Actress Olivier Award nominees

 Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson and Sheila Reid. Photography by Jan Versweyveld

Up for her emotional performance of Margo Channing in All About Eve, this is Gillian’s third Olivier nomination.

She’s previously been nominated for her roles as Nora in A Doll’s House and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, both of which received critical acclaim. In 2009, Gillian was named as one of the most powerful women in British theatre by Harper’s Bazaar and Tiffany & Co, who described her as an “honorary Brit”.

In 2016, she was awarded an OBE for her services to drama, and just last year she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Eileen Atkins

Up for her eighth Olivier Award, Dame Eileen Atkins already has three Olivier Awards sitting on her shelves.

She’s now up for Best Actress in the Height Of The Storm, where she played the role of Madeleine, a mother and wife who faces a difficult weekend when her daughters come to visit. A tricky role to play, Eileen received high praise for her performance.

Eileen has also been recognised at other award ceremonies and has received over 20 nominations. As well as her three Olivier Awards, Eileen has won three Drama Desk awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Emmy and a BAFTA.


Patsy Ferran

Patsy Ferran in Summer And Smoke (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Up for her first ever Olivier Award, Patsy has been nominated for her mesmerising performance as Alma in Summer And Smoke. Patsy played the role both at the show’s initial run at the Almeida Theatre and during its West End transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre. As a result of her performance, critics described her as “a genuine marvel” (the Independent) and “one of the most exciting actors on the British stage” (The Guardian).

Already picking up a Critics’ Circle Theatre Award-winner for Best Actress this year, Patsy has previously appeared on the big screen with roles in Darkest Hour, God’s Own Country and Tulip Fever. Her theatre performances have also been screened in cinemas, including the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Merchant of Venice, and National Theatre Live’s productions of Treasure Island and As You Like It.

Patsy will be returning to the Almeida Theatre between 8 April – 1 June, when she’ll be playing the role of Olga in Chekov’s Three Sisters.


Sophie Okonedo

2019 is already shaping up to be a great year for Sophie Okonedo. Just a few months ago she was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s honours list, and now she’s up for her first ever Olivier Award.

Receiving this nomination for her unforgettable performances in Antony And Cleopatra, Sophie’s portrayal was described as having “immense detail and subtlety” (WhatsOnStage) and being “magnificent” (Time Out) by critics.

No stranger to award ceremonies, Sophie has previously been nominated for 20 awards for her TV, film and theatre performances. Nominations include BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and an Academy Award. Sophie went onto win a Tony award in 2014 for Best Featured Actress in a Play.


Katherine Parkinson 

Katherine Parkinson as Judy in Home, I'm Darling (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Also receiving her first ever Olivier Award nomination, Katherine is being recognised for her performance of the wannabe domestic housewife, Judy, in Home, I’m Darling.

Katherine played this role both in the original production at Theatr Clwyd, and in the show’s transfer to the National Theatre. Her performance in the show has been described as “superb” (The Guardian), and “undeniably comic” (The Independent) by critics.

As well as being well-known for her West End roles, Katherine has also established a name for herself in television. She’s appeared in several successful shows including Humans, Inside No.9 and The IT Crowd, for which she won both a British Comedy Best TV Actress Award and a BAFTA.


Best Actress in a Musical

Sharon D. Clarke

Sharon D Clarke in Caroline, Or Change at Playhouse Theatre (Photo: Helen Maybanks)

Sharon is up for her second ever Olivier nomination for her “extraordinary” and “bravura”  performance in Caroline, Or Change.

Sharon has been performing on West End stages since 1996, and has performed in many successful productions including playing Rafiki in Disney’s The Lion King, Mama Morton in Chicago and originating the role of Killer Queen in We Will Rock You, which earned her an Olivier nomination for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

Sharon’s also had success in the music industry, including the hit single, Just a Groove which sold over two million singles worldwide and has appeared on four original cast recordings.

Sharon was also awarded an MBE for her services to drama.


Rosalie Craig

Rosalie Craig in Company (Photo: Brinkhoff/Mogenburg)

Rosalie has been receiving high praise for her role as Bobbie, in the gender-reversed production of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical, Company, where she’s constantly on stage.

But this isn’t the first time Rosalie has been nominated in this particular category. Her performance in The Light Princess at the National Theatre in 2014 also saw her receive a nomination.

Rosalie has played many lead roles in successful productions including City of Angels, Finding Neverland and Ragtime.


Kelli O’Hara

Ken Watanabe and Kelli O'Hara in The King And I

Kelli only made her West End debut this year, and has already bagged herself an Olivier nomination. Described as ‘Broadway musical’s undisputed Queen’ (The Sunday Times), Kelli has already won a Tony award for her portrayal of Anna, before coming over to the UK to reprise her role.

Not content with impressing audiences on a global scale, Kelli has also received two Grammy Award nominations for her solo albums.


Adrienne Warren

Adrienne Warren in Tina - The Tina Turner Musical (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Also receiving her first ever Olivier nomination for her role of Tina in Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, Adrienne is already a smash-hit over the pond. She’s appeared in several Broadway productions, dazzled critics and picked up a Tony Award nomination along the way!

Adrienne is also responsible for originating the role of Danielle in Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical, Bring It On The Musical. As well as touring with Broadway shows, including Dreamgirls, Adrienne has accomplished Platinum and Gold selling records with the Trans Siberian Orchestra.


Best Actress In a Supporting Role

Susan Brown

 Susan’s first Olivier Award nomination – as a contender for Best Actress in a Supporting Role – comes for playing the role of Sylvia in Laura Wade’s fizzing comedy Home, I’m Darling.

While not part of the show’s original London cast at the National Theatre, Susan joined Home, I’m Darling for its West End transfer. The nomination caps a remarkable year for Susan, as she was also nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the National’s epic production of Angels In America on Broadway last year.

When not on the stage, Susan can be espied playing Septa Mordane in HBO series Game Of Thrones, as well as Bridget Spears in the third series of Torchwood.


Monica Dolan

Portraying Karen in Ivo van Hove’s hit stage thriller All About Eve, Monica is up for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Award.

This is the second year in a row that Monica has been recognised by the Olivier Awards. In 2018, she starred in the searing drama The B*easts, which was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre.

She’s no stranger to awards ceremonies, however, seeing off competition from the likes of Dame Maggie Smith, Miranda Hart and Anna Chancellor to win the BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress in ITV’s 2011 drama Appropriate Adult.


Cecilia Noble

Cecilia Noble in Nine Night at the National Theatre (Photo: Helen Murray)

Cecilia Noble’s nod for Best Actress in a Supporting Role is one of two for the hit comedy Nine Night at Trafalgar Studios.

It’s Cecilia’s second Olivier Award nomination, having also been recognised for playing Sister Moore in the same category in 2014.

And while on that occasion her co-star – and fellow 2018 nominee – Sharon D. Clarke took home the Olivier Award, this year’s nomination is another highlight in Cecilia’s glittering stage career.


Vanessa Redgrave Vanessa Redgrave at the Olivier Awards 2016 with Mastercard (Photo: David Levene)

An esteemed actress of the stage, screen and television, Vanessa Redgrave is receiving her fourth Olivier Award nomination (including one win) for her short but pivotal role in Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance.

Vanessa’s impact on the acting world cannot be understated: along with three additional Tony Award nominations (including one win), she’s won an Academy Award for 1977 film Julia, one BAFTA, two Emmys, two Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and two Drama Desk Awards.

In 1999, Vanessa is reported to have turned down a damehood, retaining her CBE title which was awarded in 1967. She is also the mother of stars Joely Richardson and Natasha Richardson, as well as the mother-in-law of actor Liam Neeson.


Best Actress In a Supporting Role In A Musical

Patti LuPone

Patti LuPone in Company (Photo: Brinkhoff/Mogenburg)

An icon in the theatre community, when the news was announced that Patti was joining the cast of Company, to say Theatreland was excited is an understatement. Patti received rave reviews, where she was described as giving a “stand-out performance” (The Independent) and a “dazzling” interpretation of the role.

This is Patti’s third Olivier nomination, having previously been nominated in 1994 for Sunset Boulevard, and winning in 1985 for Best Actress in a Musical for Les Misérables.

A musical legend, Patti has also won two Grammys, two Tony Awards and was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2006.


Ruthie Ann Miles

Ruthie Ann Miles and Kelli O'Hara in Lincoln Center Theater's production of The King And I (Photo: Paul Kolnik)

Up for her first Olivier Award, Ruthie blew audiences away with her portrayal of Lady Thiang in The King And I.

Ruthie initially played this role on Broadway in the Lincoln Center production in 2015, where she won a Tony Award for her incredible performance. When she reprised the role for the London production, she recieved rave reviews, with one critic saying, “her commitment to the characterisation provides a masterclass in stage acting” (West End Wilma).


“The Queens” – Aimie Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Millie O’Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel

The cast of Six The Musical (Photo: Idil Sukan)

These Six incredible women are all up together for an Olivier Award. The definition of girl power, these women are rewriting their story in the most epic way possible. Not only have they all achieved their first ever Olivier Award nominations together, but also their cast album has currently been streamed over 3 million times.

The Six queens have already won Best Ensemble in a Play or Musical in The BroadwayWorld Awards 2018, won Best UK Cast Recording in The Curtain Up Show Album of The Year Awards 2018 and received six WhatsOnStage nominations.


Rachel Tucker 


Rachel has become a West End success story, having first got people’s attention on the BBC show, I’d Do Anything, where she was competing to play the role of Nancy in a production of Oliver.

Although she didn’t win the role, Rachel still went on to achieve huge success in the theatre. This includes playing Elphaba in the iconic musical Wicked, joining the cast of We Will Rock You and even going on tour with her own solo show.

Up for her first ever Olivier Award, Rachel’s career is going as high as the sky she sings about in Come From Away!


Blue-i Theatre Technology Award for Best Set Design

Bunny Christie

Company at Gielgud Theatre (Photo: Brinkhoff/Mogenburg)

Bunny has worked her set design magic on incredibly successful shows over the years, including A Streetcar Named Desire, As You Like It and The White Guard. This year she’s up for her eye-catching design on the musical Company.

The eighth ever Olivier nomination for Bunny, she’s previously won three Olivier Awards for set design, most recently for her work on the gripping drama, Ink.  Bunny’s work is essentially some of the most celebrated in the world of theatre.


Es Devlin

Ben Miles, Adam Godley and Simon Russell Beale in The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre (Photo: Mark Douet)

Up for her fifth Olivier Award for her fantastic set design on The Lehman Trilogy, Es already has three Olivier Awards on her mantelpiece. Es has previously won for her unforgettable set design for The Nether, Chimerica and The Dog In The Manger.

Es has an OBE and has worked as an artist and designer across a range of creative worlds, including art, opera, music and technology. Her work is often large-scale performative sculptures and environments that combine technology and poetry.

She’s even been the focus of a Netflix series, entitled Abstract: The Art of Design. Her next big project is working on the UK Pavilion for Expo 2020 in Dubai.


Anna Fleischle

Katherine Parkinson and Richard Harrington in Home, I'm Darling (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Anna has worked internationally in theatre, opera and dance.

Her work on Home, I’m Darling hasn’t just earned her one Olivier nomination, but two, as she’s also up for Best Costume Design.

Anna has previously won two Olivier Awards for her set design work. She won her first one in 2014 in the Outstanding Achievement in Opera category, and again in 2016 for her set design on the critically acclaimed show, Hangmen.


Best Costume Design

Fly Davis

The cast of Caroline, Or Change at Playhouse Theatre (Photo: Helen Maybanks)

Set in 1960s Louisiana, the costumes for Caroline, Or Change which Fly Davis created allowed the audience to feel like they’d gone back in time and still be part of a magical world. Her incredible costumes ensured characters were believable, beautiful and dressed for the right era.

Her first ever Olivier nomination, Fly has worked her magic on many theatrical productions including Othello, A Streetcar Named Desire and Pericles. Her upcoming projects include Shipwreck  and Vassa, both of which will be on at the Almeida Theatre.


Gabriella Slade 

Six The Musical - Photo by Idil Sukan

Dressing six queens is quite a royal challenge, but Gabriella made the ex-wives look as fantastic as they sounded. Never in danger of losing her head, Gabriella’s costumes are as unique as the queen donning them.

Also up for her first ever Olivier Award, Gabriella has worked her costume magic on a range of productions including Spring Awakening, The Importance Of Being Earnest and the London productions of Lin Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights.


Catherine Zuber

Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe in The King And I

Also dressing royalty, Catherine is up for an Olivier Award for her incredible work on the iconic musical, The King and I.

Not only known in the UK for her stunning costume designs, but also in America, Catherine has previously been described as “one of theatre’s most sought-after costume designers on both coasts.”

No stranger to the Olivier Awards, Catherine has previously been nominated for her costume design on the 2012 production of South Pacific.


Royal Albert Hall Award for Best Sound Design

Carolyn Downing

Carolyn Downing (Sound Designer), Rebecca Frecknall (Director) and Dervla Toal (Resident Director) in rehearsal for Summer And Smoke (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Carolyn Downing (Sound Designer), Rebecca Frecknall (Director) and Dervla Toal (Resident Director) in rehearsal for Summer And Smoke (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Nominated for her work on Summer And Smoke, this is Carolyn’s second Olivier nomination, having previously been nominated for her work on Chimerica.

Carolyn’s work knows no bounds, and her versatile abilities have meant her sound design work has been showcased at live events, exhibitions and AV explorations. Her previous theatre work has included Our Country’s Good, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Broadway and Donmar) and Carmen Disruption (Almeida).


Sir Peter Hall Award for Best Director

Marianne Elliott

Marianne Elliott backstage at the 2018 Olivier Arads

Up for her fifth Olivier Award, Marianne’s directorial talents have previously led her to take home two Olivier Awards; one for her work on the revival of St Joan and the second for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

As well as impressing critics and audiences alike in the UK, Marianne’s direction of War Horse and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time on Broadway also won her two Tony Awards.

Highly respected in the theatre industry, last year Marianne was awarded an OBE for her dedicated services to theatre.


Rebecca Frecknall

Matthew Needham and Patsy Ferran in Summer And Smoke (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Rebecca Frecknall’s production of Tennessee Williams’ Summer And Smoke was described as a “shiveringly beautiful production” (The Sunday Times) by critics. Her first Olivier nomination, in a recent interview, Rebecca said she’d first read the play when she was a student, before seeing a production on the West End. She found it so moving and powerful that she immediately wanted to do her own production.

Rebecca has worked on a range of productions, including being an associate director on one of last year’s most successful West End plays, Ink.


Best Theatre Choreographer

Kelly Devine

Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Kelly has been the choreographer on Come From Away since the show first opened on Broadway in 2017. Creating choreography for actors playing several different roles couldn’t have been easy, but Kelly did so well that she’s landed her first ever Olivier Award nomination.

Kelly has previously helped to choreograph other big musicals including Memphis, Rock Of Ages and Jersey Boys.


Carrie-Anne Ingrouille 

Choreographing six queens, each of whom needs their own unique style, sounds like a royal task, but the hard work has paid off, as it’s landed Carrie-Ann with her first ever Olivier Award.

An incredibly busy woman, Carrie-Ann is also a performer, director and a core member of the award-winning ZooNation Dance Company (who specialise in narrative hip hop theatre). Her previous work includes Blaze, The Street Dance Sensation (Peacock Theatre and European tour), Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense (Duke of York’s and UK tour) and I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical (London Palladium).

As well as currently choreographing six kick-ass queens, Carrie-Ann is also the resident choreographer on the multi-award winning show Hamilton.


Outstanding Achievement In Music

Fun Home: Jeanine Tesori (Composer) & Lisa Kron (Lyricist/Bookwriter) 

The all-female team behind the music, lyrics and book of Fun Home have both been recognised in this Olivier Award category.

Fun Home has been a global hit, and played to sold-out audiences when it arrived at the Young Vic last year. And this is clearly a team that works, as Jeanine and Lisa have also won Tony awards together, making them the first female writing team in history to win in the Original Score category.


Outstanding Achievement In Affiliate Theatre

Athena Stevens for Schism at Park Theatre

 Schism at Park Theatre

An acclaimed actor, writer and director – as well as stand-up comedian – Athena Stevens wrote, and starred in, her acclaimed play Schism at the Park Theatre last summer. This yielded her first Olivier Award nomination, coming in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre.

The candid and hard-hitting play Schism premiered at the Finborough Theatre in 2016, a run in which Athena also starred. The show’s scores of praise made an Off-West End transfer inevitable, and its arrival at the Park Theatre was met with similar acclaim.

Athena’s West End debut as an actress and playwright came in 2011 in the brilliantly received The Amazing Vancetti Sisters. In addition, she runs the blog Never Walked In High Heels.


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adrienne warren Aimie Atkinson Alexia McIntosh anna fleischle athena stevens bunny christie Carolyn Downing Carrie-Anne Ingrouille catherine zuber cecilia noble dame eileen atkins es devlin fly davis Gabriella Slade gillian anderson international women's day Jarneia Richard-Noel jeanine tesori katherine parkinson kelli o'hara Kelly Devine Lisa Kron Maiya Quansah-Breed marianne elliott Millie O’Connell monica dolan Natalie Paris olivier awards 2019 patsy ferran patti lupone rachel tucker Rebecca Frecknall rosalie craig ruthie ann miles sharon d clarke sophie okonedo susan brown vanessa redgrave

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