Angela Lansbury wins first Olivier Award at 89

Angela Lansbury was named best actress in a supporting role at the Olivier Awards for her performance as Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit

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The five-times Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury added an Olivier award to her collection for the play that brought her back to the London stage for the first time in 40 years.

The 89-year-old Murder, She Wrote star was named best actress in a supporting role at the 2015 Olivier Awards, held at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

It also proved a successful night for the revival of A View from the Bridge, in the centenary of the playwright Arthur Miller’s birth, as well as the Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon.

Lansbury won the award for playing Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. She beat competition from actresses including Lydia Wilson, who played Kate Middleton in King Charles III, and A View from the Bridge’s Phoebe Fox. Dame Angela returned to the West End last year at the Gielgud Theatre, where her mother Moyna MacGill made her stage acting debut. She said at the time: “It feels like coming home”.


The Independent called her performance “funny and endearing” while The Arts Desk said it was a “star turn”. It was her first performance in London since she played Gertrude in Hamlet at the National Theatre in 1975. She had called the role of Madame Arcati “one of the best parts I’ve had in the theatre”. The actress was born in Poplar, east London. Her family were involved in politics – her grandfather was the Labour politician George Lansbury. Aged 14, she was evacuated to the US during the Second World War.

Another veteran pulled off a surprise win in the leading actress category. Penelope Wilton beat rival nominees Gillian Anderson and Kristin Scott Thomas to the award for her role in Taken at Midnight, a play set in 1930s Germany.

A View from the Bridge, which transferred from the Young Vic to the West End,  won three of the major drama awards: best revival, best director for Ivo van Hove, and best actor for Mark Strong.

In the musical categories, the Hampstead Theatre dominated, with Sunny Afternoon winning four awards. It picked up best new musical, and awards for its stars John Dagleish – best actor in a musical, in the role of Ray Davies – and George Maguire for supporting role in a musical, playing Ray’s brother Dave.  Ray Davies himself won the award for outstanding achievement in music for the score.

Oliviers selected winners

Best actor

Mark Strong for ‘A View From the Bridge’

Best actress

Penelope Wilton for ‘Taken at Midnight’

Best new play

‘King Charles III’ by Mike Bartlett

Best revival

‘A View From the Bridge’  

Best director

Ivo Van Hove for ‘A View From the Bridge’

Best supporting actress

Dame Angela Lansbury in ‘Blithe Spirit’

Best supporting actor

Nathaniel Parker in ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’

Best new musical

‘Sunny Afternoon’

Best actor in a musical 

John Dagleish in ‘Sunny Afternoon’

Best actress in a musical 

Katie Brayben in ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’

Special award

Sylvie Guillem for dance

Special award

Kevin Spacey, artistic director at the Old Vic