The surprise at today's 24th annual Laurence Olivier Awards, held in a lunchtime ceremony held at the Lyceum Theatre, was more about what didn't win than what did. Disney's blockbuster The Lion King didn't win six of the eight categories it was nominated in, taking home instead just two awards for Best Choreographer and Best Costume Designer. And the other big contenders -- the musical Spend, Spend, Spend, which also received eight nominations, and the revival of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing which received four nominations, including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director -- only scooped one award apiece.
The big winner of the day was the Royal National Theatre and its repertory company, newly launched last year, which won a total of eight awards including the "biggies" of Best Actor (Henry Goodman for The Merchant of Venice, who won the same award at last week's Critic's Circle Awards), Best Actor in a Musical (Simon Russell Beale for Candide), Best Director (NT artistic director Trevor Nunn), Best New Musical (Honk! The Ugly Duckling), Best Outstanding Musical Production (Candide) and both Best Supporting Actor and Actress (Roger Allam and Patricia Hodge, both for Money).
As the National winners made their acceptance speeches, they time and again paid tribute to the repertory experience, with director Nunn thanking "the wonderful acting ensemble who's given me so much pleasure -- they are multi-talented, multi-disciplined and multi-delightful".
Still, even the NT seemed surprised at its success, especially where it ran up against the power of the Disney production. Lyricist Anthony Drewe commented, "I guess the judges couldn't get tickets for The Lion King," when presented with the Best New Musical award for Honk! while Trevor Nunn, in his acceptance speech for Best Director (an award he also won at this year's Evening Standard and Critic's Circle Awards), began by saying, "If I had a casting vote in this category, I would have given it to Julie (Taymor). She's stunning and wonderfully imaginative." And when Nunn earlier mounted the stage to pick up the Best Set Designer award on behalf of the NT's Rob Howell, he admitted that Howell hadn't instructed him to thank anyone because he was so certain of losing to The Lion King's Richard Hudson.
In other categories, Janie Dee achieved a hat trick, winning the Best Actress award yet again (following success at the Evening Standard and Critic's Circle Awards) for her performance as an android in Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential. Barbara Dickson won Spend, Spend, Spend its only Olivier for Best Actress in a Musical, beating out competition from her co-star Rachel Leskovac. "I've cornered the market in downtrodden Northern women," Dickson joked about her role as the aging pools winner Viv Nicholson.
Jenny Galloway also triumphed over a co-star to win the award for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical, securing the sole award for the Abba-inspired mega hit Mamma Mia!. "Thank you to you know who for the music," she said, before giving "special thanks to the two sensation women I've had the pleasure of working with on this show -- Louise Plowright and Siobhan McCarthy, my love and gratitude to you both."
Other awards went to Shelagh Stephenson's The Memory of Water for Best New Comedy and to Richard Nelson's Goodnight Children Everywhere for Best New Play.
The ceremony, presented by chat show host Clive Anderson, will be televised on BBC2 this Sunday, Feb. 20, at 8:00 PM.
The full list of winners (in bold) follows:
Janie Dee for Comic Potential at the Lyric
Jennifer Ehle for The Real Thing at the Donmar Warehouse and now at the Albery
Maggie Smith for The Lady in the Van at the Queen's
Alison Steadman for The Memory of Water at the Vaudeville
Roger Allam for Summerfolk at the RNT Olivier
Stephen Dillane for The Real Thing at the Donmar Warehouse and now at the Albery
Henry Goodman for The Merchant of Venice at the RNT Cottesloe and now at the RNT Olivier
Michael Sheen for Look Back in Anger at the RNT Lyttelton
Antony Sher for The Winter's Tale, RSC at the Barbican
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Roger Allam for Money at the RNT Olivier
Michael Bryant for Summerfolk at the RNT Olivier
Ron Cook for Juno and the Paycock at the Donmar Warehouse
Michael Williams for The Forest at the RNT Lyttelton
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Anne-Marie Duff for Collected Stories at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket
Patricia Hodge for Money at the RNT Olivier
Estelle Kohler for The Winter's Tale , RSC at the Barbican
Kika Markham for Song at Twilight at the Gielgud
BEST NEW MUSICAL:
Honk! The Ugly Duckling, music by George Stiles, book and lyrics by Anthony Drewe, based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen at the RNT Olivier
Mamma Mia!, music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and some songs with Stig Anderson, book by Catherine Johnson at the Prince Edward
Spend Spend Spend, book and lyrics by Steve Brown and Justin Greene, music by Steve Brown, based on the book by Viv Nicholson and Stephen Smith at the Piccadilly
The Lion King, music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice, additional music and lyrics by Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor, Hans Zimmer, book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, adapted from the screenplay by Irene Mecchi and Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton at the Lyceum
OUTSTANDING MUSICAL PRODUCTION:
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim at the Open Air
Candide, music by Leonard Bernstein, book adapted from Voltaire by Hugh Wheeler, in a new version by John Caird, lyrics by Richard Wilbur, additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Leonard Bernstein at the RNT Olivier
Dick Whittington devised by Gillian Lynne, Stephen Clark and Chris Walker at Sadler's Wells
The Pajama Game, book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, based on Richard Bissell's novel 7* Cents, music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross at the Victoria Palace.
BEST NEW PLAY:
Goodnight Children Everywhere by Richard Nelson, RSC at The Pit
Perfect Days by Liz Lochhead at the Vaudeville
Rose by Martin Sherman at the RNT Cottesloe
The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett at the Queen's
Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg at the Donmar Warehouse.
BEST NEW COMEDY:
Comic Potential by Alan Ayckbourn at the Lyric
Quartet by Ronald Harwood at the Albery
The Memory of Water by Shelagh Stephenson at the Vaudeville
Al Murray - The Pub Landlord at the New Ambassadors
Defending the Caveman by Rob Becker at the Apollo
Fascinating Aida - Barefaced Chic at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket
Soul Train devised by Mark Clements and Michael Vivian at the Victoria Palace.
BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:
Rob Edwards for The Lion King at the Lyceum
Daniel Evans for Candide at the RNT Olivier
Ben Keaton for Animal Crackers at the Lyric
Gus MacGregor for Buddy at the Strand
Simon Russell Beale for Candide at the RNT Olivier.
BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:
Josette Bushell-Mingo for The Lion King at the Lyceum
Barbara Dickson for Spend Spend Spend at the Piccadilly
Rachel Leskovac for Spend Spend Spend at the Piccadilly
Siobhan McCarthy for Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward.
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL:
Joseph Alessi for Animal Crackers at the Lyric
Jenny Galloway for Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward
Steven Houghton for Spend Spend Spend at the Piccadilly
Louise Plowright for Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward
Denis Quilley for Candide at the RNT Olivier.
David Leveaux for The Real Thing at the Donmar Warehouse and now at the Albery
Trevor Nunn for Summerfolk at the RNT Olivier, The Merchant of Venice at the RNT Cottesloe and now at the RNT Olivier, Troilus and Cressida at the RNT Olivier
Jeremy Sams for Spend Spend Spend at the Piccadilly
Julie Taymor The Lion King at the Lyceum.
BEST THEATRE CHOREOGRAPHER:
Peter Darling for Candide at the RNT Olivier
Garth Fagan for The Lion King at the Lyceum
Craig Revel Horwood for Spend Spend Spend at the Piccadilly
Stephen Mear for Soul Train at the Victoria Palace.
BEST SET DESIGNER:
Lez Brotherston for Spend Spend Spend at the Piccadilly
Maria Bjornson for Plenty, Almeida at the Albery
Rob Howell for Richard III, RSC at the Savoy, Troilus and Cressida at the RNT Olivier, Vassa, Almeida at the Albery
Richard Hudson for The Lion King at the Lyceum.
BEST LIGHTING DESIGNER:
Howard Harrison for Private Lives at the RNT Lyttelton, Sleep with Me at the RNT Cottesloe and The Tempest, RSC at the Barbican
Mark Henderson for Plenty, Almeida at the Albery, Spend Spend Spend at the Piccadilly, Suddenly Last Summer at the Comedy, The Forest at the RNT Lyttelton, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, RSC at the Barbican, The Real Thing at the Donmar Warehouse and now at the Albery, and Vassa, Almeida at the Albery
Donald Holder for The Lion King at the Lyceum
Peter Mumford for Collected Stories at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, Richard III, RSC at the Savoy, Summerfolk and The Merchant of Venice at the RNT Cottesloe and now at the RNT Olivier.
BEST COSTUME DESIGNER:
Rob Howell for Money and Troilus and Cressida at the RNT Olivier
Robert Jones for The Winter's Tale, RSC at the Barbican
John Napier with Elise Napier for Candide at the RNT Olivier
Julie Taymor for The Lion King at the Lyceum.
BEST NEW OPERA PRODUCTION:
English National Opera's Alcina at the London Coliseum
Welsh National Opera's Hansel and Gretel at Sadler's Wells
English National Opera's Parsifal at the London Coliseum
English National Opera's Semela at the London Coliseum.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA:
Kim Begley for his performance in English National Opera's Parsifal at the London Coliseum
English National Opera for its high standard of production and in particular for championing the works of Handel
Rosemary Joshua for her performance in English National Opera's Semele at the London Coliseum
Bryn Terfel for his performance in The Royal Opera's Falstaff at the Royal Opera House.
BEST NEW DANCE PRODUCTION:
San Francisco Ballet's Sandpaper Ballet at Sadler's Wells
Nederlands Dans Theater 1's Symphony of Psalms at Sadler's Wells
San Francisco Ballet's The Cage at Sadler's Wells
Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal's Viktor at Sadler's Wells.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE:
Nina Ananiashvili for her performance in The Bolshoi Ballet's Don Quixote at the London Coliseum
Pina Bausch and her Company for the conception of Viktor at Sadler's Wells
David Bintley and his creative team for Birmingham Royal Ballet's Edward II at Sadler's Wells
Jiri Kylian for his artistic excellence and outstanding direction of Nederlands Dans Theater 1's season at Sadler's Wells.