While last night’s illustrious guests celebrated an outstanding year in theatre from the Royal Opera House’s auditorium, behind the stage’s sound-proofed wall other celebrations where taking place as the winners flooded backstage over the course of the evening to tell the gathered press how it felt to be clutching their newly awarded Oliviers. With four very excitable Matildas, an equally excited Derren Brown and theatrical legends passing through, there was never a dull moment. Here’s what the winners had to say.
Rob Ashford, director of the Best Revival Olivier Award-winning show Anna Christie
Congratulations! How do you feel to have won?
So excited. This is for our whole gang. This is the one for everybody, this isn’t for me or Jude [Law] or Ruth [Wilson], it’s for all of us together.
What are you working on now?
Finding Neverland, the musical that I’m doing here this summer.
Derren Brown, winner of the Best Entertainment and Family Olivier Award
How does it feel to win your second Olivier Award?
It’s extraordinary. It’s all a bit mad isn’t it? For me, not being of proper theatre stock, but loving it, I just feel like a big fraud which I suppose in a sense I am, up in front of a load of theatrical heroes and giants.
Are you glad Svengali is coming back to the West End?
Yes. We’ll be up against the Olympics so that’s….erm…a bit of a shame. For the Olympics. [laughs]
Do you feel at home on the stage?
Yes I do. I think it’s the natural home for what I do. I just love drama, I love plays, I love acting, and maybe it’s something I’d like to do more of at some point.
Best Actress Olivier Award winner Ruth Wilson
Congratulations, how does it feel to have won?
It feels amazing, I’m shaking a bit. I’m very excited. I didn’t expect to win and I’m very honoured.
It’s your second Olivier Award win for the Donmar Warehouse. Will this entice you back?
The Donmar is the most amazing space…it’s about the relationship with the audience; they’re so close, they’re so intimate, you can’t get away with anything as an actor so it’s very scary in that way, but exhilarating and you go on every night wanting to be on there and it’s different every night. So I will go back there all the time, I love that space. I’ve won two awards there so it’s got to be doing something right!
Jonny Lee Miller, winner of the Best Actor Olivier Award
What does it mean to you to win an Olivier Award?
It means I’ve got a statue and it’s fantastic. It means a lot. It’s an honour and I’m a bit shocked.
Did you find doing Frankenstein a unique experience because of the job sharing aspect of it?
Yes, very unique and very wonderful actually to be able to share ideas with another actor and to not be precious about all our ideas. Some stuff we liked we would take from each other, other stuff we didn’t. Some stuff we disagreed about. It was fascinating. Not everyone would be able to work like that, but me and Benedict are lucky enough to really respect each other and like each other and get on with each other.
Is there any chance of the show coming back?
There is talk, small talk, of it. We’ve only just heard something recently about the possibility of it coming somewhere else.
The Matildas, shared winners of the Best Actress in a Musical Olivier Award
How does it feel to have won?
Amazing! I think we all feel so honoured to be in this position.
Eleanor, you are the youngest ever winner of an Olivier Award.
Yeah that’s pretty cool. Scary, but I think that’s pretty awesome.
For the two of you that are leaving [Kerry Ingram and Sophia Kiely], how does it feel?
Sad. Because we’ve been here for ages and you get to know each other really well. It’s like one big family and then you just separate. It’s really sad.
Have you got any idea what it is that makes Matilda so successful?
I think that it’s usually the – not just us – but all the child actors. You wouldn’t really think of a child being such a strong dancer or singer and I think that’s what attracts quite a lot of people: adults and children.
What’s Miss Trunchbull like in real life?
He’s really nice. It’s amazing how he changes from Bertie [Carvel] to Trunchbull because Bertie’s such a nice guy. Bertie and Trunchbull are just two completely different people.
Matilda The Musical star Bertie Carvel, winner of the Best Actor in a Musical Olivier Award
How does it feel to have won?
It feels amazing actually. I’m very proud of the show, I’m proud of my part in it but frankly I’m proud of every inch of it, it’s really at every turn witty, inventive, it’s the kind of theatre I want to go and see which is the kind of theatre I want to be in so I’m very proud to be hefting this in its honour.
How good are the Matildas?
They’re incredible…there’s something kind of beautifully unfinished about them. They’re full of life and I think when I go to the theatre that’s what I pay to see is something that’s really alive and hasn’t been sanded off too much. I venture to say – I may be shot for it – that often people’s idea of a musical is of something that is extremely well polished, very skilful and incredibly well-honed to a very fine point, and I think that what this show has is something that’s very lifelike in its jagged edges and deliberately so, I’m very proud to be a part of it.
Are you going to Broadway?
[cheeky grin] Well I don’t know, they haven’t asked me yet. I might!
How do you feel about leaving on 1 July and saying goodbye to the Trunchbull?
She’ll still recur in my dreams I expect in some more or less terrifying way. It’ll be good to be able to do this next 11 weeks with 150% commitment and not worry that a very very long run would start to go off the boil so I hope to be still firing on perhaps even more cylinders than tonight after this wonderful lift for the next three months. It’ll be a high to finish on.
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical winner Nigel Harman
How does it feel to have won the award?
It’s genuinely thrilling. I’m absolutely chuffed to bits.
How tough was it doing eight shows a week when you had to perform the role on your knees?
It was the mornings. Getting out of bed and walking downstairs, it took me a few steps to warm but somehow my body got used to it and we got through it.
Timothy Sheader, direct of Crazy For You, winner of the Best Musical Revival Olivier Award
This is the third year running an Open Air production has won the Best Musical Revival category [Hello, Dolly! In 2010, Into The Woods in 2011]. How does that feel?
Quite unbelievable but amazing. It feels slightly greedy! I don’t think we can even look at the nominations list next year; we’ve had our turn that’s it.
Would you like to move into working on new productions?
Definitely. Everyone wants to work on something grass-roots up. It’s certainly on our agenda to do new work.
Matilda The Musical’s Peter Darling and winner of the Best Theatre Choreographer Olivier Award
How do you feel to have won?
It’s amazing. I can’t quite believe it.
This is your second Olivier Award win for a musical starring children [Darling won in 2006 for Billy Elliot The Musical]
I think there must be an element of it being my forte, but it was never intended. I don’t think I have a particularly great affinity with children but I sort of think of them as small adults and I enjoy their anarchy and just their energy, which I find very invigorating.
Akram Khan, winner of the Best New Dance Production Olivier Award
How does it feel to have won?
It’s a bit of a shock. I’ve been in bed the whole of January and February with an Achilles tendon rupture so I was a bit nervous, if we had won it, of walking up the stairs.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m preparing for this countdown for the Olympic opening ceremony which I’m doing with Danny Boyle. So that will be the first time I dance actually in seven months after the injury so a bit nerve-wracking in front of two and a half million people.