US star Leigh Zimmerman has triumphed in the Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical category at the Olivier Awards with MasterCard.
The actress won the coveted statuette for her performance as Sheila in the revival of A Chorus Line at the London Palladium, giving a performance described by Michael Billington in The Guardian as “striking” and by Tim Walker in The Telegraph as “wonderfully neurotic”.
In triumphing, Zimmerman beat hot competition from Australian star Adam Garcia (Kiss Me, Kate), musical theatre stalwart Debbie Kurup (The Bodyguard) and veteran performer Siân Phillips (Cabaret).
A Chorus Line, which opened in the West End in February, is the classic Broadway musical telling the tale of stage hopefuls eagerly auditioning for a place in a musical ensemble. As they perform, they reveal the stories of their lives that have led them to that pressure-packed stage.
Speaking to us backstage after collecting her award, Zimmerman said: “I am so honoured, so humbled. The people I am in a category with, first of all, I just adore them all. I love my cast, which I didn’t thank. But I love them. I’m just in awe of the process that we get to go through every day and A Chorus Line shows that story.
“It’s a challenge to stand on stage every night and tell really intimate stories, and we get to do that with no sets and costumes, to do it in a simplistic way. It’s a whole different style of storytelling.”
Zimmerman, whose other West End credits include Chicago and Contact, was previously nominated for an Olivier for her performance in Mel Brooks musical The Producers. Speaking to us at the Nominees’ Celebration, she told us how delighted she was with how the profile of the Oliviers had risen since that 2005 nomination: “The bigger deal we make of it, the bigger deal people will perceive of it, and West End theatre deserves that. All theatre deserves that.”