Presented as an immersive theatrical experience, this fascinating exhibition takes visitors beyond the stage to the design workshops, and through the history of the awards to the red carpet and glitzy award ceremonies. Curated by the V&A and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, in partnership with the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), Curtain Up is part of a year-long programme of activity that celebrates 40 years of the Olivier Awards, which recognise excellence in professional theatre. Curtain Up has been designed by RFK Architects and Tom Piper, the designer who created the Tower of London poppies installation, alongside ceramic artist Paul Cummins. It brings together costumes, photographs, production material, film and awards, most of which has been put on display for the first time.
TOP HATS AND TUNICS There are items from the collections of both the V&A and The Library for the Performing Arts, along with items loaned from private collections. Highlights include original costume designs from The Phantom of the Opera, one of the longest running West End musicals, and the longest running Broadway productions in history, shown alongside the costume worn by a recent West End Phantom. There’s a selection of golden top hats from A Chorus Line, a production which won both a Tony Award and the inaugural Olivier Award for Best New Musical, a tunic worn by Rudolf Nureyev in Romeo and Juliet, and the dress Dame Helen Mirren wore in The Audience, a role for which she won both an Olivier (2013) and Tony Award (2015) for Best Actress. Helen Mirren says: “Having worked on both Broadway and the West End, I am delighted that Curtain Up, marking 40 years since the Olivier Awards were inaugurated, honours the shared artistic heritage binding London and New York, and showcases the wealth of creative talent that brings great productions to the stage on both sides of the Atlantic.”
BEHIND THE SCENES A spotlight on the awards reveals how they have developed since their inception and how an entire company – from back-of-house to centre stage – contribute to an awardwinning production. Script writing, production, direction, design (lighting, sound, set and costume), music, choreography and the evolution of technology are all featured in the exhibition. There are costumes on display from Disney’s The Lion King, Chicago and The Producers, along with costume designs for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Visitors can step into a scene from The National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, designed especially for Curtain Up, see set models for Matilda the Musical, as well as models from another award-winning production, War Horse.
Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York, in association with MasterCard, is a free exhibition which runs at the V&A Museum, Exhibition Road, London until August 31, 2016. For more information visit www.vam. ac.uk/curtainup.