Olivier Awards: Company star Jonny Bailey calls out LGBT education debate
Company star Jonny Bailey has called out controversy over LGBT-inclusive education in an acceptance speech at the Olivier Awards.
The actor spoke out during the awards ceremony on Sunday (April 7) after winning the award for best actor in a supporting role for his role as jittery gay groom-to-be Jamie in the West End revival of Company.
Bailey paid tribute to the show’s producer, who changed the gender of his character to create a same-sex romance that was not part of creator Stephen Sondheim’s original 1970 production.
Company star Jonny Bailey calls out debate on ‘very existence’ of LGBT+ people at Olivier Awards
He said: “Thank you so much. To Chris Harper, our producer… he quietly and passionately campaigned for Amy to become Jamie. Thank you to Stephen Sondheim for saying yes.”
Alluding to controversy in the UK over LGBT-inclusive education, he added: “At a time where acknowledging the very existence of LGBT+ people in our schools is being questioned, we have been able to, as a company, show a lovely and celebratory snapshot of gay love.
“LGBT+ people really aren’t that different. We’re just as anxious, and just as flawed and desperate to fall in love as anyone else.”
“LGBT people really aren’t that different…we’re just as anxious, and we’re just as flawed, and desperate to fall in love as everyone else.” – @JonnyBailey winning Best Supporting Actor in a Musical at the #OlivierAwards pic.twitter.com/B8iMTTb4C7
— Steve Barry (@SteveBarry_) April 7, 2019
Company also picked up the award for best musical revival.
The Inheritance star Kyle Soller referenced Brunei ‘death to gays’ law
Company was not the only LGBT+ winner on the night, with The Inheritance picking up four awards.
The acclaimed drama, penned by Matthew Lopez and directed by Billy Elliot‘s Stephen Daldry, focuses on a group of gay men living in modern-day New York, a generation on from the AIDS epidemic.
The nearly seven-hour show, which ran at London’s Young Vic and Noel Coward Theatres, picked up the best new play award.
Daldry won the best director award, while lead Kyle Soller was named best actor.
In his speech, Kyle Soller referenced protests against anti-gay laws in Brunei.
He said: “This play would not have existed without a debt of sacrifice to the people that died during the AIDS epidemic.
“To those that were lost, to those that continue to fight in a world where you can still be stoned to death for loving who you love, thank you.”
Not every LGBT+ production was victorious on the night, however.
Alison Bechdel’s lesbian-themed musical Fun Home left empty-handed, despite three nominations.
A production of Swan Lake that featured gay themes, which was performed during Sunday’s award ceremony. also left without an award.