Winners of the 22nd annual Laurence Olivier Awards, Britain's most prestigious theatre awards, were announced today. Awards for 18 of the 20 categories were presented in a lunchtime ceremony held at the Albery Theatre in London this afternoon.
The remaining two awards -- for Best New Comedy and Outstanding Musical Production -- are being withheld until the UK television broadcast on Monday, Feb. 23. Winners of these awards will be tracked down for surprise presentations later in the week. Today's ceremony, however, yielded plenty of surprises on its own.
The two main stars of Chicago -- Ute Lemper and Ruthie Henshall -- were both vying for Best Actress in a Musical Award, but Lemper walked away with the trophy. In her acceptance speech, she honoured her co-star, saying that, in her heart, they shared the award: "It really does take two to tango," said Lemper. "Thank you, Ruthie."
The Royal National Theatre swept up again with six awards. Richard Eyre and Ian Holm have achieved a veritable Grand Slam of theatrical awards for their partnership in King Lear. The production has won Eyre Best Director and Holm Best Actor in the Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics Circle Awards this year.
The RNT also won Best New Play for Patrick Marber's Closer. When accepting his award, Marber confessed that he was "embarrassed" for winning out over his idols who were in competition against him. "David Hare (Amy's View) and Tom Stoppard (Invention of Love) were two of the reasons I became a writer," he said. "They've been a constant source of inspiration." Zoe Wanamaker wasn't the only one surprised when she won Best Actress for Electra at the Donmar Warehouse, beating out stiff competition from the two West End Dames -- Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. The Donmar also scored with its mixed-reception production of The Fix which won Philip Quast Best Actor in a Musical.
And, in a surprise announcement, Culture secretary Chris Smith was on hand to present two Special Awards to Canadian father-son business duo Ed and David Mirvish for their 15-year ownership and restoration of the Old Vic Theatre. Smith took the opportunity to state publicly his ongoing private plea to the Mirvishes for the future of the Old Vic which is now up for sale. "Please don't rush into a disposal of the Old Vic," Smith said to David who watched from the audience, "instead give all the rest of us a chance to come in with suitable, high quality proposals."
Today's ceremony -- including the remaining two awards - will be screened in the UK on BBC2 television on Feb. 23 at 9pm.
The (nearly) full list of award winners is as follows:
BEST ACTRESS - Zoe Wanamaker won for Electra at the Donmar Warehouse, beating out: Judi Dench for Amy's View at the RNT's Lyttelton and now at the Aldwych, Sally Dexter for Closer at the RNT's Cottesloe, Maggie Smith for A Delicate Balance at the Haymarket,.
BEST ACTOR - Ian Holm won for King Lear at the RNT's Cottesloe, beating out: Michael Gambon for Tom and Clem at the Aldwych, Rupert Graves for Hurlyburly at the Queen's, Simon Russell Beale for Othello at the RNT's Cottesloe, John Wood for The Invention of Love at the RNT's Cottesloe.
BBC AWARD FOR BEST NEW PLAY - Patrick Marber's Closer won, beating out: Amy's View by David Hare, Hurlyburly by David Rabe, The Invention of Love by Tom Stoppard, Tom and Clem by Stephen Churchill.
BEST ENTERTAINMENT - Slava's Snowshow created by Slava Polunin at The Old Vic won, beating out: Maureen Lipman Live and Kidding at the Duchess, Marlene by Pam Gems at the Lyric, She Knows You Know! by Jean Fergusson at the Vaudeville.
AMERICAN EXPRESS AWARD FOR BEST NEW MUSICAL - Beauty and the Beast, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book by Linda Woolverton at the Dominion won, beating out: Enter the Guardsman, book by Scott Wentworth, music by Craig Bohmler and lyrics by Marion Adler, based on The Guardsman by Ferenc Molnar at the Donmar Warehouse; Lady in the Dark, a musical play by Moss Hart with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and music by Kurt Weill at the RNT's Lyttelton; The Fix, book and lyrics by John Dempsey, music by Dana P Rowe at the Donmar Warehouse.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE - Sarah Woodward won for Tom and Clem at the Aldwych, beating out: Michael Bryant for King Lear at the RNT; Ronald Pickup for Amy's View, Paul Rhys for King Lear at the RNT.
BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL - Ute Lemper won for Chicago, beating out: Maria Friedman for Lady in the Dark, Ruthie Henshall for Chicago, Sian Phillips for Marlene.
BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL - Philip Quast won for The Fix, beating out: John Barrowman for The Fix, Henry Goodman for Chicago, Andrew C. Wadsworth for Kiss Me Kate.
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL - James Dreyfus won for Lady in the Dark, beating out: Nicky Henson for Enter the Guardsman, April Nixon for Damn Yankees, Issy van Randwyck for Kiss Me Kate.
BEST THEATRE CHOREOGRAPHER - Simon McBurney won for The Caucasion Chalk Circle at the RNT's Olivier in collaboration with Theatre de Complicite, beating out: Rob Marshall for Damn Yankees, Ann Reinking for Chicago, Matt West for Beauty and the Beast.
BEST COSTUME DESIGNER - Tim Goodchild won for Three Hours After Marriage at the RSC's Pit, beating out: Nicky Gillibrand for Lady in the Dark, Ann Hould-Ward for Beauty and the Beast, William Ivey Long for Chicago
BEST SET DESIGNER: Tim Goodchild won (again!) for Three Hours After Marriage, beating out: William Dudley for The Homecoming at the RNT's Lyttelton, John Gunter for The Peter Hall Company's season at the Old Vic, Rob Howell for Chips with Everything.
BEST LIGHTING DESIGNER - Rich Fisher won for Chips with Everything and Lady in the Dark, beating out: Paul Anderson for The Chairs at the Royal Court, Howard Harrison for The Fix, Hugh Vanstone for Hamlet at the RSC's Barbican.
BEST NEW OPERA PRODUCTION - The Royal Opera's Paul Bunyan at the Shaftesbury won, beating out: English National Opera's Falstaff co-produced with Opera North at the London Coliseum, The Royal Opera's Palestrina at the Royal Opera House, The Royal Opera's Platee at the Barbican.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA - Paul Daniel won for conducting ENO's From the House of the Dead at the London Coliseum and for his contribution to ENO, beating out: Alan Opie for his performance in ENO's Falstaff; Nikolaus Lehnhoff (director), Tobias Hoheisel (sets), Bettina J Walter (costumes) and Mark Henderson (lighting) - the creative team for Palestrina; Francesca Zambello for directing The Royal Opera's Paul Bunyan.
BEST NEW DANCE PRODUCTION - The Mark Morris Dance Group won for L'Allegro, Il Penseroso Ed Il Moderato, ENO in association with Dance Umbrella at the London Coliseum, beating out: Birmingham Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker Sweeties at the Royal Opera House; English National Ballet's Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE - Lez Brotherston won for the set and costume design for Adventures in Motion Pictures' Cinderella at the Piccadilly, beating out: Altynai Asylmuratova for her performance in the English National Ballet's Swan Lake, Mark Morris for his choreography of L'Allegro, Il Penseroso Ed Il Moderato .
The following awards have not yet been announced. Winners will be announced during a UK television broadcast next Monday, Feb. 23, 1998.
OUTSTANDING MUSICAL PRODUCTION: Chicago, lyrics by Fred Ebb, music by John Kander, book by Ebb and Bob Foss at the Adelphi; Damn Yankees, book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, words and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, based on Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, book revisions by Jack O'brien at the Adelphi; Kiss Me Kate, music and lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Bella and Samuel Spewack at the Open Air Theatre.
BEST NEW COMEDY: East is East by Ayub Khan-Din at the Royal Court, Popcorn by Ben Elton at the Apollo, A Skull in Connemara by Martin McDonah at the Royal Court.