Each year performers and creatives are nominated for their outstanding work, with Rose Bruford graduates holding a long history of awards and recognition. 2023 is no exception.
This year, actress Katie Brayben, 2003 graduate of the Actor Musicianship programme, has received her second Olivier nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Her recent performance in the title role of musical Tammy Faye won rave reviews from critics and audiences over the shows run. The new original musical by James Graham explored the rise and fall of American televangelist Tammy Faye, who became an unlikely queer ally during the AIDS crisis at a time where gay people were being attached and ostracised. Music for the show was created by Sir Elton John, with lyrics by the Scissor Sisters’ frontman Jake Shears. In 2015 Katie won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her title role in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, also playing a real-life figure.
“With each real life person I’ve played there has been a lot out there to read and absorb. However the time comes when you have to engage solely with the play and be faithful to the material. So, you take all you have absorbed, hope it’s all there inside you, and then let it go.
I set a lot of trust in the energy and life-force of a person, so I try to let that guide me rather than doing ‘impressions’ which I find sometimes can create a distance between you and the character.”
– Katie Brayben
Alumnus Mark Walters has been nominated at this year’s Olivier awards for his work on the London Palladium’s pantomime Jack & The Beanstalk, starring Alexandra Burke, Dawn French, Rob Madge and Julian Clary. The show also picked up nominations for Best Entertainment or Comedy Play and Best Costume Design. Mark is also part of interior design duo MartinMark, who won the second series of the BBC’s Great Interior Design Challenge.
Another new musical recognised in this year’s Olivier nominations is The Band’s Visit at the Donmar Warehouse, which alumnus Tarek Merchant serves as Musical Director for. The show has been nominated for six awards at this year’s ceremony, including Best New Musical. The Band’s Visit follows the story of a group of Egyptian musicians mistakenly arriving in a small Israeli town instead of their scheduled concert destination.
“Working on Michael Longhurst’s European Premier production of The Band’s Visit for the Donmar Warehouse was a very special project for me, as it celebrated my long-standing passion for celebrating the ‘liveness’ of visible music-making in theatre – a passion that was cultivated first whilst training on the Actor Musicianship course at Rose Bruford.
Alongside the phenomenal Music team of Supervisor Nigel Lilley, and Assistant MD Natalie Pound, getting the chance to MD an incredible band of exceptional musicians on David Yazbek’s haunting and deeply moving score, was a real career highlight, and something I will always cherish having been a part of. To see it being recognised in the short-list for the Olivier Awards is an additional excitement.”
– Tarek Merchant
2019 Knight of Illumination Award recipient Jessica Hung Han Yun has received her first Laurence Olivier award nomination for her work as Lighting Designer for My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican. The show has received seven Olivier nominations this year in total. My Neighbour Totoro is adapted by Tom Morton-Smith from the beloved 1998 Studio Ghibli film of the same name, with music by Joe Hisaishi.
In 1950’s Japan, two sisters move to a countryside village where they encounter Totoro, a forest spirit. The Royal Shakespeare Company produced stage play was a triumph, with the production breaking Barbican box office records for ticket sales in a single day, surpassing their previous record of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Jessica graduated from Rose Bruford’s Lighting Design programme, which is now amalgamated into the new Design for Performance course. Her work has received numerous awards nominations and wins, notably for EQUUS which won her the Knight of Illumination Award, and multiple nominations for the production from Broadway World UK, WhatsOnStage and Off West End awards.
Two shows featuring Bruford alumnus that have taken place at the Royal Court Theatre haver also been recognised for this years Oliviers. Alumna Sofia Danu, who recently appeared in BBC’s Waterloo Road, starred in Two Palestinians Go Dogging which has been nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre. The play, set in 2043, uses humour to explore how ‘everyday becomes political and political becomes everyday in a conflict zone’.
For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy was also performed at the Royal Court, leading to alumnus Aruna Jalloh being nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance. The play’s limited five-week run last year followed its sold our premiere at the New Diorama Theatre in 2021. Aruna played Obsidian in the production, which follows six young black men as they meet for group therapy, and ‘let their hearts – and imaginations – run wild’.
Congratulations to all this year’s Olivier nominees, and good luck.
The 2023 Laurence Olivier Awards will take place at the Royal Albert Hall, April 2nd, hosted by Hannah Waddingham.