Party Of The Week: Packed with real characters

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The Independent Culture

London's theatrical luminaries gathered at Grosvenor House, London, to enjoy a champagne reception in the lead-up to the Laurence Olivier Awards. Amid the splendour of the rooms, the pre-dinner drinks gave guests the chance to relax after the rigours of walking the red carpet outside.

The room was soon stuffed with West End talent, young and old. A smiling Patrick Stewart led the old guard in black tie along with Derek Jacobi (supremely dapper in a dickie bow) and Kevin Spacey.

Imelda Staunton looked keen to party, while Andrea Corr, dressed in a red, knee-length, strapless cocktail dress, drew envious and admiring gazes. Gareth Gates and Jason Donovan also both appeared at ease in their new, rarefied thespian in-crowd.

Sheridan Smith stood entwined with her partner, James Corden, while Emma Williams won the award for "most daring dress" in a low-cut, backless dress. Sadie Frost wore a pair of silver shoes and one of her own cocktail-dress creations.

Jodie Prenger appeared distinctly jumpy about presenting the first award, while the Jersey Boys – Philip Bulcock, Ryan Molloy, Stephen Ashfield and Glenn Carter – were dragged out of the room for yet more red-carpet action no sooner had they begun drinking. James Nesbitt, who later hosted the ceremony, loitered.

As the bell struck for a dinner of grilled lamb, the gathered theatre royalty descended to the Great Room. A thoroughly jolly love-in for the West End's best-loved luvvies.