A Fair time for McCutcheon as Phantom proves a favourite

Story by Jack Foley

INDIELONDON West End favourite The Play What I Wrote was among the winners at the 26th annual Laurence Olivier Awards which were announced on Friday, February 15, 2002, at the Victoria Palace Theatre.

The popular and celebrity-packed production (at Wyndham's Theatre) picked up two awards - for Best New Comedy (for Hamish McColl, Sean Foley and Eddie Braben), while Toby Jones won Best Supporting Actor, beating off some heavyweight competition not least from Ned Beatty in the sublime Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

However, Foley and McColl narrowly missed out on a memorable hat-trick in the Best Actor category, which went to Roger Allam for Privates on Parade at the Donmar Warehouse. Allam triumphed against the likes of Alan Rickman, who had been nominated for his performance in Private Lives at the Albery.

However, his co-star, Lindsay Duncan scooped the Best Actress prize at the glittering ceremony, having been nominated for her performances in Private Lives and Mouth to Mouth at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court.

The Best Actress in a Supporting role went to Marcia Warren for the critically acclaimed Humble Boy, now showing at the Cottesloe.

One of the most keenly anticipated awards of the ceremony was the Audience Award For Most Popular Show, which went to the long-running Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber production, The Phantom of the Opera (visit the site using above link), which beat off strong competition from the likes of Cats, Mamma Mia! and, Indielondon's own recommendation, The Reduced Shakespeare Company.

In the musical category, The Hilton Award For Outstanding Musical Production went to My Fair Lady (book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe, adapted from Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and Gabriel Pascal's motion picture at the Lyttelton and now at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane).

Other nominees included Kiss Me, Kate, showing at the Victoria Palace, and highly rated by Indielondon's critic, Paul Nelson.

Indeed, My Fair Lady was one of the big winners of the day, with its star, former Eastender Martine McCutcheon taking the award for Best Actress in a Musical or Entertainment, beating Kiss Me Kate's Marin Mazzie to the honour, and the musical itself gaining the Hilton Award for Outstanding Musical Production. Matthew Bourne also won the Best Choreographer prize.

Philip Quast was named Best Actor in a Musical or Entertainment for South Pacific at the Olivier, while Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical or Entertainment went to Martyn Jacques for Shockheaded Peter, at the Piccadilly.

The BBC Award for Best New Play, went to Jitney, by August Wilson, at the Lyttelton.

Other award winners were:

Best Entertainment: Shockheaded Peter created and devised by Julian Bleach, Anthony Cairns, Julian Crouch, Graeme Gilmour, Tamzin Griffin, Jo Pocock, Phelim McDermott, Michael Morris and The Tiger Lillies (Martyn Jacques, Adrian Huge and Adrian Stout) at the Piccadilly.

Best director: Michael Boyd for Henry VI Parts I, II and III and Richard III at the Young Vic.

Best Set Designer: Tim Hatley for Humble Boy, at the Cottesloe and Private Lives at the Albery.

Best Costume Designer: Jenny Beavan for Private Lives.

Best Lighting Designer:
Mark Henderson for A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Albery and The Playboy of the Western World at the Cottesloe.

Most Promising Playwright: Grae Cleugh for Fucking Games at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court.

Most Promising Performer: Benjamin Davies for Fucking Games.

Best New Opera: The Royal Opera's Boulevard Solitude at the Royal Opera House.

Best New Dance Production: Sankai Juku's Hibiki at Sadler's Wells.

Special Award: Rupert Rhymes

Outstanding Achievement Award: Trevor Nunn