17 nominations for the National Theatre, 9 for the Royal Court and 9 for the Donmar is hardly a surprise, but Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much criticised Phantom follow-up Love Never Dies has garnered an impressive 7 nominations.
Andrew Lloyd Webber can hold his head up high — Love Never Dies, his sequel to Phantom of the Opera, which received, to put it mildly, mixed reviews, has seven nominations (far out-stripping Phantom itself back in the day).
Also, arguably the biggest runaway smash of the past year has been a relative outsider: End of the Rainbow, first seen, in Terry Johnson’s production, at the Royal Theatre, Northampton. Peter Quilter’s play about Judy Garland’s final London appearances is up for contention alongside Bruce Norris’s liberal-baiting drama about racial prejudice in Chicago (and America), past and present, Clybourne Park, Roy Williams’s superb piece about teenage black boxers and Eighties cultural pressure, Sucker Punch, the far less acclaimed comedy The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane and Tribes, Nina Raine’s inventive and insightful play about deafness, families and the way we do, and don’t, communicate with each other.
Faced with such strong competition, End of the Rainbow is unlikely to come away with Best Play prize, but Tracie Bennett, giving a mesmerising account of Judy Garland at her most frail, faltering and defiant, gets a Best Actress nod, while Hilton McRae, as her quietly dignified pianist, could win in Best Supporting Actor category, and Gareth Owen has been short-listed for Best Sound Design too.
Photo: Robert Day