As we all know, the world is filled with incredible, talented, hard-working and inspiring women. And today, people across the globe are taking time to highlight, acknowledge and celebrate womankind for all the amazing things they do.
This International Women’s Day, we want to shine a light specifically on the remarkable female creators who have been nominated for this year’s Olivier Awards. From directors to set designers, choreographers to orchestrators, the accomplishments of these extraordinary women are paving the way for the next generation of theatremakers and opening the door for more women to enter the industry.
Before we deep-dive into the individual women behind-the-scenes, we must also mention the rise of the female protagonists who are striking a chord with the West End. The past year has seen a whole host of productions centred on strong, empowering women hit the London stage and earn critical and audience acclaim. So it’s only right that & Juliet, Amelie, Emilia, and Evita have received much-deserved Olivier Award nominations (nine, three, three, and two respectively). In fact, & Juliet has received the highest number of nominations of any show this year including nominations for Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Set Design and Best Costume Design.
And now, here are the world-class creatives inspiring others through their passion, dedication and creativity.
Marianne Elliot and Miranda Cromwell
Nominated for the Sir Peter Hall Award for Best Director for Death Of A Salesman
Marianne Elliott’s CV reads like a “West End And Broadway Greatest Hits” list. With that in mind, she’s no stranger to the Olivier Awards. In 2013 she received the Best Director Award for her production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and in 2018 she won the same award for Angels In America. She received a nomination for her direction of last year’s Best Musical Revival, Company, and this year, she’s up for the Best Director again.
However, this year, she’s sharing her nomination with long-time collaborator and rising directorial star, Miranda Cromwell.
Miranda has worked with Marianne as Associate Director on both Company and Angels in America. She was the Young Company Director at the Bristol Old Vic from 2009 – 2014, has directed two plays for National Theatre and has been the Artistic Director of Twisted Theatre.
Individually, they have both had outstanding careers that exemplify excellence in theatre and together, they create unique and ground-breaking productions that breathe life and change into the industry.
Nominated for Blue-I Theatre Technology Award for Best Set Design for & Juliet
The prolific designer has worked in all types of venue. From pub venues like The Gate to the National Theatre and beyond, Soutra Gilmour’s award-winning work has overcome all manner of challenges and astounded audiences each and every time. She often collaborates with Jamie Lloyd having worked on Betrayal at the Pinter At The Pinter, Richard III, The Maids, The Homecoming, The Ruling Class, The Pride, The Hothouse, and Macbeth – a mere scratch on her extensive list of productions.
Nominated for Blue-I Theatre Technology Award for Best Set Design for Rosmersholm and Uncle Vanya
Famed for her Olivier Award and Tony Award-winning set design of War Horse, Rae Smith has a special eye and imagination that brings unique productions to life. Her eclectic work ranges from the bright and colourful world of wonder.land to the stark, harsh lands of St. Joan. This year, Rae’s relentless talent has received two nominations in the same category – a feat rarely achieved.
Nominated for Best Costume Design for & Juliet
Remember those nine & Juliet nominations we mentioned? One of them is for Tony Award-winner Paloma Young. The resourceful American designer often uses found and second-hand materials to create her beautiful pieces that not only make the characters so much more relatable but also environmentally friendly. Her incredible work has dressed a plethora of characters from schoolboys in Troublemaker, Or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures Of Bradley Boatright to the dapper stylings of Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812 and beyond.
Nominated for Best Costume Design for Emilia
Joanna Schotcher is a diverse, award-winning designer who has worked across TV, theatre and beyond. Her daring work often takes her to unusual venues including lakes, tunnels and trains. In 2011 she designed the site-specific and breath-taking set for the Olivier Award-winning The Railway Children – just an example of her epic and incredible work.
Nominated for Royal Albert Hall Award for Best Sound Design for Emilia
The former Deputy Head Of Sound at the Royal Court Theatre and Senior Sound Technician at the Olivier at the National Theatre has been designing sounds for theatre for over 20 years. The veteran designer has synesthesia which means she hears in colour which adds layers and texture to her work which is completely unique to her. She never planned on becoming a sound designer but proves that passion and a natural flare can lead to amazing things.
Nominated for White Light Award for Best Lighting Design for The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
Paule Constable has worked on everything from Les Misérables to War Horse. She’s designed lighting for almost every venue in the West End, plus worked extensively on Broadway. Her name has become synonymous with award-winning lighting and she has a whopping two Tony and four Olivier Awards to prove it. Along with her wins for the likes of War Horse and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, she’s been nominated for countless other awards including four further Olivier Award nominations.
Nominated for Best Theatre Choreography for & Juliet
New York-based choreographer Jennifer Webber is no stranger to diverse dance styles having worked on The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Disney’s Zombies 2, KPOP and more, but she is a stranger to the West End. & Juliet is Jennifer’s West End debut making her nomination even more impressive. She has a B.A. in Communications proving that your career isn’t set when and if you go to university – something everyone should keep in mind.
Nominated for Best Original Score or New Orchestrations for Waitress
Back in 2009, Sara Bareilles took over the world with her catchy and award-winning song Love Song. Seven years later she swept Broadway with her incredible songs for Waitress and Spongebob Squarepants. Last year, the stage adaptation of the cult movie Waitress came to the West End where a little sugar, spice and all things nice added an Olivier Award nomination to her list of accolades. What are those accolades? You may ask. Well, among the gigantic list is a Grammy Award with five additional nominations, three Emmy nominations, and two Tony nominations.
We must not forget…
There are a further 16 women nominated for their performances including Phoebe Waller-Bridge whose play Fleabag is also up for Best Entertainment or Comedy Play. Plus, all three nominees for The The Outstanding Achievement in Dance are women (Sara Baras, Anne Theresa De Keersmaeker, and Gíselle Vienne) and powerhouses in their industry.
Lastly, we commend Lucy Prebble who wrote A Very Expensive Poison – a play that follows Marina Litvinenko’s relentless campaign for an inquiry into her husband’s infamous death.
There are so many more women that are making and shaping theatre behind the scenes and on the stage, and to them, we say thank you.
To see the full list of nominees including all 16 actresses nominated, click here.