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Kelly triumphs as Lenny, while Springer steals the show at Olivier Awards 2004

Story by Jack Foley

TELEVISION presenter, Matthew Kelly, put a difficult personal period behind him by winning the best actor award at the 28th annual Laurence Olivier Awards on Sunday, February 22, 2004.

The popular TV celebrity picked up the prestigious accolade for his performance as Lenny, in the acclaimed production Of Mice and Men, and declared that it meant a lot, adding that it had been 'a fantastic journey this year'.

The recipient was a worthy winner, having won widespread acclaim for his portrayal, not least from two IndieLondon critics.

But the big winner at the bash, held at London's Hilton, and presented by Clive Anderson, was Jerry Springer - The Opera, which won four awards, including best new musical and best musical actor, for David Bedella.

Bedella is no stranger to success, having a number of US theatre credits to his name, including, most notably, playing Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, opposite Meatloaf.

The best actress accolade went to Eileen Atkins, for her role in Honour, while Dame Judi Dench received the received the Special Award, for her contribution to theatre.

Another top prize on the evening was the outstanding achievement award, which went to the Young Vic, for what judges referred to as an 'audacious' season, which, under the artistic direction of David Lan,
enjoyed an extraordinarily successful 2003, with productions including Red Demon, Simply Heavenly, Peribanez, and an updated version of Hobson’s Choice.

The theatre has recently announced a new fundraising campaign to secure its long-term future, which has been supported by the Oscar-nominated actor, Jude Law.

Other highlights included the best director prize, which went to Michael Grandage, for Caligula at the Donmar Warehouse, and a statuette for Warren Mitchell, who took the best performance in a supporting role for The Price.

Maria Friedman won the best actress in a musical category, for Ragtime, while The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh, was named best new play.

In what proved to be a glittering evening, Dame Judi Dench's award was presented to her by close friend and Hollywood actor, Kevin Spacey.

This year's awards, run by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), were sponsored by the hotel group Hilton UK and Ireland.

The nominees in full (winners appear in bold):

Best actress
Eileen Atkins - Honour
Helen Mirren - Mourning Becomes Electra
Ann Mitchell - Through The Leaves
Kelly Reilly - After Miss Julie
Kristin Scott Thomas - Three Sisters

Best actor
Roger Allan - Democracy
Kenneth Branagh - Edmond
Greg Hicks - Coriolanus
Matthew Kelly - Of Mice And Men
Michael Sheen - Caligula

Best new play
Democracy - Michael Frayn
Elmina's Kitchen - Kwame Kwei-Armah
Hitchcock Blonde - Terry Johnson
The Pillowman - Martin McDonagh

Best revival
Absolutely! (Perhaps)
Mourning Becomes Electra
Of Mice And Men

Best performance in a supporting role
Joe Dixon - The Roman Actor
Oliver Ford Davies - Absolutely! (Perhaps)
Paul Hilton - Mourning Becomes Electra
Warren Mitchell - The Price

Best new musical
Jerry Springer - The Opera
Thoroughly Modern Millie

Outstanding musical production
High Society
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Pacific Overtures
ell Me On A Sunday

Best actress in a musical
Maria Friedman - Ragtime
Amanda Holden - Thoroughly Modern Millie
Alison Jiear - Jerry Springer - The Opera
Maureen Lipman - Thoroughly Modern Millie

Best actor in a musical
David Bedella - Jerry Springer - The Opera
Graham Bickley - Ragtime
Michael Brandon - Jerry Springer - The Opera
Kevyn Morrow - Ragtime

Best director
Stafford Arima - Ragtime
Michael Grandage - Caligula
Gary Griffin - Pacific Overtures
Stewart Lee - Jerry Springer - The Opera

Best entertainment
Duckie’s C’est Barbican!

Fascinating Aida’s One Last Flutter
Jus’ Like That
My Brilliant Divorce
The Rat Pack – Live From Las Vegas

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