Irish star Jessie Buckley wins best actress at Olivier Awards

The revival of the hit show Cabaret dominated the theatre awards as it landed seven of the 11 prizes it was nominated for.
Irish star Jessie Buckley wins best actress at Olivier Awards

By Naomi Clarke and Laura Harding, PA Reporters

Irish star Jessie Buckley won best actress in a musical at the Olivier Awards for her turn as Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

Meanwhile Eddie Redmayne said playing the famous Emcee role in Cabaret was his “dream” after winning an Olivier Award for his portrayal in the show’s West End revival.

The Oscar-winning star was named best actor in a musical for his take on the flamboyant master of ceremonies during the prize ceremony held at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The revival of the hit show, which transformed the West End’s Playhouse Theatre into the Kit Kat Club, proved to be the hot ticket of the night as it scooped seven of the 11 prizes it was nominated for.

It took home the coveted best musical revival award, while Kerry native Buckley won best actress in a musical.

Olivier Theatre Awards 2022 – London
Cabaret co-stars Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley picked up top awards during the prize ceremony. Photo: Ian West/PA

Accepting his award, Redmayne said: “This is the dream. For me, this is the one.

“This was the part that I played when I was a kid in school. It was the thing that got my passion for theatre really fuelled.”

The actor also paid tribute to his co-star Buckley, noting he would never have “gotten on this ride” if she had not agreed to do it with him.

He told PA: “Every night, getting to introduce her singing Cabaret, and then getting to peek through the curtain and watch her roar that track was the stuff that dreams are made of. You are one of the greats and thank you for that privilege.”

Buckley appeared overwhelmed with emotion as she collected her award, saying: “It’s such a huge privilege to be part of this community which I consider my family. Thank you for welcoming me in all those years ago. This is just so lovely.”

Liza Sadovy also won best supporting actress in a musical for her role in the show, while Elliot Levey won best supporting actor in a musical.

Sadovy told the PA news agency in the Olivier winners’ room that being part of the show felt like a “full circle” moment as Cabaret had been such a part of her life growing up, to the extent that she switched her name from Jane Elizabeth to Liza Jane in homage to Liza Minnelli – who starred in the role of Sally Bowles in the 1972 film version.

Olivier Theatre Awards 2022 – London
Liza Sadovy and Elliot Levey scooped best supporting actor and actress for their roles in Cabaret  (Ian West/PA)

She added that Redmayne and Buckley had been “absolutely amazing” to work with, describing them as “inventive and brave”.

Levey also praised Redmayne’s handle on leading the cast, and said his work ethic was “inspiring”.

He added: “I think the truth is, when big stars come and try theatre, if they can’t do it, I sort of write them off.

“I think they’re great and wonderful, but a bit of me goes ‘You’re not proper’. Eddie Redmayne – proper.”

Rebecca Frecknall was also named best director for her helming of the production, which also won the best sound gong.

Frecknall revealed that her father had played the role of the Emcee in 1975, which made the moment even more special.

Amy Lennox, who has taken over the role from Buckley as Sally Bowles, also gave a striking solo performance of Life Is A Cabaret during the ceremony, with Redmayne adorning his role as Emcee briefly as he introduced her.

The ceremony also contained performances by West End shows including Frozen, Moulin Rouge! and Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical.

Olivier Theatre Awards 2022 – London
Writer Lolita Chakrabarti created the stage adaptation of Life Of Pi, which won best new play (Ian West/PA)

Life Of Pi, based on Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name, picked up five prizes at the ceremony, including best new play.

Star Hiran Abeysekera was named best actor while the seven actors who play the Tiger shared the best supporting actor prize.

Sheila Atim was named best actress for Constellations, which was named best revival, while Back To The Future won the best new musical prize.

Liz Carr won the best supporting actress prize for her role in A Normal Heart while Pride And Prejudice (Sort Of) was named best entertainment or comedy play.

The award show also paid tribute to those within the industry who have died in the past couple of years including actor Sir Antony Sher, actress Dame Barbara Windsor and composer Stephen Sondheim.

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