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Jodie Comer & Paul Mescal Excite At Olivier Awards After-Party

Jodie Comer has caught the “stage bug.” Having triumphed in her debut performance in Prima Facie, she’s avidly seeking to follow up with another production in coming years.

“I’ll definitely do more theater,” the Killing Eve and Free Guy star told Deadline at the Olivier Awards after-party held at the Natural History Museum in Kensington, London just a hop, skip and a jump from the Royal Albert Hall, where earlier Sunday night the theater world’s luminaries gathered to give themselves a well-earned pat on the back.

The actress pointed to Prima Facie producer James Bierman and said, “I’m going to cling to him. I’ll follow him because he gave me this opportunity.”

Comer’s blistering performance as an attorney who defends rapists and is then sexually assaulted by a colleague has won her a stash of best actress hardware, including a statuette at the Olivier’s – the West End’s equivalent of the Tony Awards.

Gut feeling guided her during last year’s original run of Suzie Miller’s drama at the Harold Pinter Theatre. At one point in the play, Tessa, her character, leapt onto a table. “That was instinct,” she explained, noting how she wanted to give a sense of Tessa’s physicality.

Jodie Comer in Prima Facie at the Harold Pinter in London

Helen Murray

“As the run went on I became more and more fearless and learned more about myself, my emotions and my instincts because of playing her,” she added.

Comer’s father saw her first preview and final performance.” Dad was impressed. “He said: ‘You’ve become quicker,’” she laughed as she held court with friends on the edge of the museum’s makeshift dance floor.

Every so often she gently swayed to the beat but she wasn’t in total let-your-hair-down mode.

More than likely she was saving her energy for her flight back to New York to resume rehearsals for the Broadway production of Prima Facie, which starts previews at the Golden Theatre on April 11, with a gala opening night on April 23. The ten-week limited season ends June 18.

“We’ve done a week’s rehearsals but we need to hurry back to carry on where we left off,” she said. 

Next moves

Bierman told us that he and Comer will discuss next moves once the actress completes the Broadway run and a set of film and TV commitments.

“I want to continue working with Jodie on projects for the theater when she’s ready for another go,” said Bierman. “She’s committed to the stage now. She’s sort of caught the bug.”

The Natural History Museum was heaving with humans, and dinosaurs. In one of the display rooms was a Titanosaurus, not roaming around, you understand, but in skeleton form. Upon entering, partygoers were introduced to the boney framework of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling of the Hintze Hall with all the stagecraft of the theatrical art form we’d just been celebrating. 

Paul Mescal at the Royal Albert Hall

Baz Bamigboye/Deadline

One particular homo sapien was treated like a prime exhibit. His name? Paul Mescal. The actor finds it “creepy” that he attracts so much attention. If only he’d kept on his tuxedo at the party and not shown off a dress shirt that appeared to be sprayed on.

“I was hot,” smiled the star when we found him wandering around the vast main hall with a bunch of friends. His every move was being tracked by a legion of women and a few blokes.

The Olivier Award Best Actor trophy (known as the ‘Larry’ after theater giant Laurence Olivier) that Mescal had won for his searing Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams at the Almeida Theatre and now transferred to the Phoenix Theatre, was in his right hand.

“I’m not letting go of it, seriously. I’m keeping it close,” he said.

He’d love to play Kowalski on Broadway should the Rebecca Frecknall-directed production transfer there. But where will he find the time? The minute he completes the short season at the Phoenix he’ll be away to Morocco to flex his muscles as Lucius in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2.

Mescal has been building up his biceps for months in preparation for the buzzy feature. Then he’s got to quickly discard the muscular build in order to appear in WWI drama movie History of Sounds opposite Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country) for director Oliver Hermanus (Living). The role apparently requires more brain than brawn.

Paul Mescal with his ‘Larry’ award: “I’m not letting go of it, seriously,” he said.

Dave Benett/Getty Images

A Streetcar Named Desire won two other honors: Best Revival and Best Supporting Actress to Anjana Vasan for her Stella. Patsy Ferran’s electrifying Blanche DuBois was in the running for Best Actress — her portrait of southern gentility anchored the production but Comer took the prize on the night.

But Almeida Theatre shows had a pretty darn hot night, with the trophies for Streetcar and Will Keen wining Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Vladimir Putin in Peter Morgan’s play Patriots, which is directed by Almeida’s artistic chief Rupert Gould (Judy). Patriots transfers into the Noel Coward Theatre for a 12-week run from May 26.

Zubin Varla and Katie Brayben won for their roles in Tammy Faye for which Elton John provided the score. Some had hoped that the rock star might have performed a number or two at the after-party, but to be fair, he’d just played the first of ten gigs at the 02 on the south side of the River Thames at Greenwich.

“It was never on the cards,” said Gould who also directed Tammy Faye.

Jubilant scenes

Others had reasons to be cheerful too. 

The Royal Shakespeare Company people were beyond jubilant with the big six it scored for its adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli classic animated feature My Neighbour Totoro. The show’s wins included Best Director for Phelim McDermott and Best Entertainment or Comedy Play. The RSC announced last week that My Neighbour Totoro will return to London’s Barbican for a 17-week second season from November 21.

Mei Mac: Best Actress nominee for ‘My Neighbour Totoro’

Baz Bamigboye/Deadline

The RSC’s rival the National Theatre took home two Olivier prizes, including Best Original Score. That went to Richard Hawley for the great musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge, which he shared with orchestrator Tom Deering.

Hawley gave a lively speech that involved a reminiscence of urinating at a posh public convenience when he was a child. Incomprehensible for sure, but the audience nonetheless cheered him on. 

Deadline saw no sign of him at the Natural History Museum. He’d instead headed to Standing at the Sky’s Edge’s own private party at a the hip Laylow restaurant and club across town at the far end of Notting Hill.

The show, produced by the National and Rupert Lord’s Various Productions, was named Best Musical. Like the Tony Award’s equivalent gong, it’s a huge deal.

Beverley Knight had a big night as well, with her first ever Olivier for Best Supporting Actress in the musical Sylvia, celebrating the life of feminist activist Sylvia Pankhurst. Knight gave a rip-roaring account of herself when the show’s company performed a number at the awards. The singer-turned-actress had already appeared in a scene from Sister Act, which she starred in last year.

Hannah Waddingham at the Royal Albert Hall

Baz Bamigboye/Deadline

Ted Lasso star and awards host Hannah Waddingham was in her element as she watched the musical performances, using all of her will power not to jump in and join them.

She led the original opening number and we’d have enjoyed another but it wasn’t to be. That said, the live show was already way too long at roughly three and a half hours.

Perhaps next year the Society of London Theatre’s Olivier Awards sub-committee could cut the show back, but then where would they put more of Hannah Waddingham singing?

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