The 22nd annual Laurence Olivier Awards, Britain's most prestigious theatre awards, will be given Monday, Feb. 16.
Nominations were announced Jan. 15. Chicago and Lady in the Dark swept up with a number of nominations. Chicago comes out tops in the musical categories with seven nominations, including two contenders for Best Actress in a Musical (both Ruthie Henshall and Ute Lemper).
The lunchtime Awards ceremony will be hosted by TV presenter Clive Anderson and will mix a snapshot of key events in the theatre year with presention of awards. Not all the winners will receive their awards conventionally. Some will be tracked down in unexpected places -- on stage, in rehearsal or at home -- to be presented. The awards ceremony will be televised in the UK on BBC2 on 23 February at 9 PM.
The Royal National Theatre's Lady in the Dark follows close behind with five nominations including Best New Musical and Best Actress in a Musical for Maria Friedman. New writing also fares well in the 1998 nominations, as reflected in the Best New Play category which has expanded to five nominations for the first time ever.
The Laurence Olivier Awards are supported for the eighth year by American Express. Of special interest to U.S. audiences is the Best Director category. Four nominees are either represented on Broadway or will be on the Great White Way by springtime. Walter Bobbie recreated his success with Kander & Ebb's Chicago (still running at NY's Shubert and on US tour) and is currently whipping Footloose into shape. Richard Eyre is helming the Broadway-targeted Judas Kiss, Sam Mendes' Cabaret comes to the Kit Kat Klub (formerly Club Expo) in March, and Matthew Warchus' Art starts March 1.
This year's Awards include 78 nominations in 20 award categories. They are as follows:
BEST ACTRESS: 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, Zoe Wanamaker for Electra a the Donmar Warehouse.
BEST ACTOR: Michael Gambon for Tom and Clem at the Aldwych, Rupert Graves for Hurlyburly at the Queen's, Ian Holm for King Lear at the RNT's Cottesloe, Simon Russell Beale for Othello at the RNT's Cottesloe, John Wood for The Invention of Love at the RNT's Cottesloe.
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.
BEST ENTERTAINMENT: 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, Slava's Snowshow created by Slava Polunin at The Old Vic.
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; 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.
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 PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Michael Bryant for King Lear at the RNT; Ronald Pickup for Amy's View, Paul Rhys for King Lear at the RNT; Sarah Woodward for Tom and Clem at the Aldwych.
BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL: Maria Friedman for Lady in the Dark, Ruthie Henshall for Chicago, Ute Lemper for Chicago, Sian Phillips for Marlene.
BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL: John Barrowman for The Fix, Henry Goodman for Chicago, Philip Quast for The Fix, Andrew C. Wadsworth for Kiss Me Kate.
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL: James Dreyfus for Lady in the Dark, Nicky Henson for Enter the Guardsman, April Nixon for Damn Yankees, Issy van Randwyck for Kiss Me Kate.
BEST DIRECTOR: Walter Bobbie for Chicago, Richard Eyre for King Lear at the RNT; Sam Mendes for Othello at the RNT; Matthew Warchus for Hamlet at the RSC's Barbican.
BEST THEATRE CHOREOGRAPHER: Simon McBurney for The Caucasion Chalk Circle at the RNT's Olivier in collaboration with Theatre de Complicite, Rob Marshall for Damn Yankees, Ann Reinking for Chicago, Matt West for Beauty and the Beast.
BEST LIGHTING DESIGNER: Paul Anderson for The Chairs at the Royal Court, Rich Fisher for Chips with Everything and Lady in the Dark, Howard Harrison for The Fix, Hugh Vanstone for Hamlet at the RSC's Barbican.
BEST SET DESIGNER: William Dudley for The Homecoming at the RNT's Lyttelton, Tim Goodchild for Three Hours After Marriage, John Gunter for The Peter Hall Company's season at the Old Vic, Rob Howell for Chips with Everything.
BEST NEW OPERA PRODUCTION: 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 Paul Bunyan at the Shaftesbury, The Royal Opera's Platee at the Barbican.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA: Paul Daniel for conducting ENO's From the House of the Dead at the London Coliseum and for his contribution to ENO; 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: L'Allegro, Il Penseroso Ed Il Moderato performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group, ENO in association with Dance Umbrella at the London Coliseum; 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: Altynai Asylmuratova for her performance in the English National Ballet's Swan Lake, Lez Brotherston for the set and costume design for Adventures in Motion Pictures' Cinderella at the Piccadilly, Mark Morris for his choreography of L'Allegro, Il Penseroso Ed Il Moderato