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Official London Theatre: March

4 March 2016 | London Calling

An Official London Theatre sneak peek into what you can see at the theatre this March, and what shows you should catch before they close. In case you hadn't noticed, we're heading towards peak Oliver Award frenzy, so we look at who's tipped to win this March and what shows are nominated.

Welcome to March, or as Theatreland calls it, 'The crazy run up to the Olivier Awards with MasterCard’. Everything that happens between now and the awarding of UK theatre’s most prestigious prizes on the 3April will be seen through Olivier-tinted glasses. And this is a very good thing, as, frankly, who doesn’t love a glamorous, entertainment-packed awards ceremony.

We already know who the nominees are. There’s more intrigue in this year’s list than a season of Midsomer Murders: Gypsy leads the way with eight nominations; Mark Rylance heard about his nomination just after winning an Oscar; Kenneth Branagh is nominated in two categories. We were – of course – at the nominations announcement and caught up with a glitter of nominees to get their reactions. A glitter, that’s the collective noun for nominees, isn’t it?

And yet, if you’re reading this before 11 March, you can still affect one category. The Magic Radio Audience Award for long-running London shows is voted for by the public, so if you’ve not exercised your democratic right to help crown an Olivier winner, do it now.

If there’s an Audience Award eligible show you’re hankering to see, pop over to TKTS to purchase tickets and you’ll get a sweet surprise; until 11 March they’re giving away a free bar of Divine Chocolate with every ticket bought for one of those shows

But enough of all this Olivier Awards chatter, eh? What’s opening this month? Well National Theatre and Headlong hit People, Places And Things is transferring to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre. Interestingly enough it has four Olivier Award nominations... see what I mean? Everything comes back to the Oliviers.

Dark comedy The Painkiller is the next show in the Branagh Theatre Company’s season of plays at the Garrick. It stars Rob Brydon as a man contemplating taking his life and Branagh as the hitman holed up in an adjoining hotel room. Yep, the same Branagh with two Olivier nominations.

James Norton doesn’t have an Olivier nomination; he may have been in the biggest TV shows of the year so far – Happy Valley, War And Peace, Grantchester – but he doesn’t have one of those. He’s starring in Bug, the tale of a cocktail waitress on the run from her violent ex-husband, which comes to Found111 this month. He stars opposite former Olivier Award nominee Kate Fleetwood.

Let’s change tack. What do you need to see before it closes?

Well, there’s War Horse. After seven years at the New London Theatre, Joey’s off to pastures new. You have until 12 March to catch the Olivier Award-winning puppet-tastic wartime tale.

There’s also The Father (three nominations this year), which is enjoying its third season in its third different London theatre in the space of a year. Florian Zeller’s tale of an ageing patriarch and his struggle with dementia is a tough but incredible watch. You have until 26 March to catch it, and you can also read our Q&A with nominated star Kenneth Cranham.

We’ve tried, we genuinely have, but everything comes back to the Olivier Awards. Even when you run a feature following arguably the West End’s cutest star – Nell Gwynn’s canine performer, Milly – the show goes on to pick up a handful of Olivier Award nominations.

Embrace the Olivier Awards, we say. And the ways in which you can do so are many. Head to Covent Garden on 3 April and join the party in the Piazza featuring live performances from the Magic Radio Audience Award shortlisted shows and a livestream of the ceremony. Listen live on Magic Radio and hop on Twitter to share your thoughts; alternatively, watch the extended highlights, to be broadcast on ITV shortly after proceedings have come to a close at the Royal Opera House. Keep your fingers crossed for your favourites, pour a glass of bubbly and enjoy.

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