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Olivier Awards 2023 (updated) – Waleed Akhtar impresses; Anjana Vasan still floating and Zubin Varla is another big ‘Tammy Faye’ winner…

Olivier Awards 2023 (updated) – Waleed Akhtar impresses; Anjana Vasan still floating and Zubin Varla is another big ‘Tammy Faye’ winner…

A round-up of what the award-winners said beyond the ceremony… (on mobiles & smaller screens click on the Instagram links to seeimages in full)

AMASSING more than 50,00 views and striking a chord with a large part of the Royal Albert Hall audience at the Olivier Awards was playwright and actor Waleed Akhtar in his heartfelt acceptance speech.

His ‘The P Word’, brought to the stage by The Bush Theatre in West London, won in the Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre at The Olivier Awards.

Waleed Akhtar and Lynette Linton at the Oliviers 2023

Akhtar said he was grateful, humble and lost for words and praised the play’s director Anthony Simpson-Pike for championing the work, which is about two men with Pakistani roots – one an ayslum seeker – falling in love with each other, somewhat against the odds and expectations.

Akhtar also praised his co-star Esh Alladi in what is a two-hander play, the theatre itself from its front of house staff to Bush artistic director Lynette Linton (who accompanied Akhtar to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall to receive the Olivier).

Akhtar thanked his family and his mother and said he was missing his nephew’s first birthday to collect the award.

“He won’t remember,” joked Akhtar. “I’ve won an Olivier anyway.”

Praising Micro Rainbow, a charity which assists LGBT asylum seekers, and helped with aspects of the play, Akhtar added: “It would be remiss of me not to say, stand up and oppose what this government is doing with regards to asylum seekers. If I wasn’t fasting, I would say eff the Tories.”

His words were cheered vigorously.

On Instagram, he posted a picture of his Olivier and quipped: “Soft launching the new man in my life. He’s already moved in.”

On Twitter, he retweeted a couple of reactions, including a Tweet from Micro Rainbow which highlighted fellow actor Jassa Ahluwalia proclaiming that though Akhtar had only two minutes on the stage, he “raised the roof” at the Royal Albert Hall (RAH) on Sunday evening (April 2).

Anjana Vasan won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her part in the Almeida Theatre production of the Tennessee Williams classic, ‘A Streetcar named Desire’.

Reacting on Instagram, yesterday (April 5) lunchtime she wrote: “Still floating. Thank you for all the lovely messages and love. I am beyond grateful.”

In her acceptance speech, Vasan thanked everyone who worked with her on the production and the Almeida itself and the Malaysian-born actor praised her mother and father too, ending and looking visibly emotional, said: “I am going to have find a corner and have a lie down and a cry.”

Zubin Varla was unable to attend because of family illness and his award was collected by Rupert Goold, artistic director of the Almeida Theatre which produced, ‘Tammy Faye’ – the musical in which Varla won the Best Supporting Actor in a musical category. Goold also directed this production.

Jerry Fallwell (Zubin Varla) in ‘Tammy Faye‘ ©MarcBrenner

Varla plays the hellfire US preacher Jerry Fallwell in a drama which centres around Tammy Faye (Katie Brayben), a real life 1980s televangelist in the US, who grew from small town origins to running a TV channel and raking in millions. As her fame grew, others of a similar outlook started to criticise her and while she preached Christian love to all, more fundamentalist preachers articulated strong negative opinions on subjects such as homosexuality.

Elton John wrote the music along with Jake Shears of pop rock band Scissor Sisters with the book (narrative) by James Graham.

The Almeida Theatre won six awards in total at the Oliviers. As well as Vasan and Varla winning – Vasan’s co-actor Paul Mescal won Best Male Actor and the production won Best Revival. Varla’s co actor Brayben won Best Actress in a Musical. Will Keen also won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in ‘Patriots’.

The Olivier Awards are organised by the Society of London Theatres (SOLT) and compromise of many West End and central London stage venues and are home to many of the capital’s most successful musical shows.

Read our review of ‘The P Word’ (at the top) –

We last interviewed Vasan for her role in Riz Ahmed’s ‘Mogul Mowgli’ –

Zubin Varla spoke to us when he featured in ‘The Unknown island’ –


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture