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The Producers and History Boys triumph at Olivier Awards 2005

Story by Jack Foley

THE Producers has won three of the top prizes at this year's Oliver Awards, including the prestigious title of best new musical.

Mel Brooks' hit show triumphed against the likes of Mary Poppins, which won two awards, and Andrew Lloyd Webber's lavish Woman in White, which stars Michael Crawford.

Nathan Lane, who stepped in at the last minute to replace Richard Dreyfuss, beat co-star, Lee Evans, to win best musical actor, while Conleth Hill won best supporting role in a musical.

The Producers was a smash hit on Broadway before moving to the West End, where it has been playing to sold-out audiences.

Its closest rival was Mary Poppins, which led the nominations, and which picked up awards for best choreography and best musical actress for its star, Laura Michelle Kelly.

Another of the night's big winners was Alan Bennett's The History Boys, which picked up three awards in the straight theatre categories.

The play, which is set in a grammar school in the early 1980s and part-based on Bennett's experiences as a teacher, was named best new play.

Its star, Richard Griffiths, was named best actor, while the production also won National Theatre artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, best director. Bennett got a special award for outstanding contribution to British theatre.

However, one of the pre-award favourites, Dame Judi Dench, who appeared in All's Well That Ends Well at the Gielgud, lost out in the best supporting role category to Amanda Harris, who played Emilia in Othello for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Olivier Awards have been handed out by the Society of London since 1976. They were presented at a glittering ceremony on Sunday, February 20, 2005.

Award winners in full

Best new play - The History Boys by Alan Bennett at the Lyttelton

Best new musical - The Producers at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Best musical actor - Nathan Lane for The Producers at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Best musical actress - Laura Michelle Kelly for Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward

Best actor - Richard Griffiths for The History Boys at the Lyttelton

Best actress - Clare Higgins for Hecuba at the Donmar Warehouse

Best supporting role in a musical - Conleth Hill for The Producers at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Best performance in a supporting role - Amanda Harris for Othello at Trafalgar Studios

Best director - Nicholas Hytner for The History Boys at the Lyttelton

Best Revival - Hamlet by William Shakespeare at The Old Vic

Best lighting design - His Dark Materials designed by Paule Constable at the Olivier

Best sound design - The Woman in White designed by Mick Potter at the Palace

Best new opera - Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the Royal Opera House

Outstanding achievement in opera - Thomas Ades and the Royal Opera House for the world premiere of The Tempest

Best costume design - All's Well That Ends Well designed by Deirdre Clancy at the Gielgud

Best set design - His Dark Materials designed by Giles Cadle at the Olivier

Outstanding musical production - Grand Hotel at the Donmar Warehouse

Best theatre choreographer - Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear for Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward

Outstanding achievement or performance in an affiliate theatre - Andrew Scott for A Girl in A Car With A Man at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court

Best new dance production - Rambert Dance Company's Swamp at Sadler's Wells

Outstanding achievement in dance - San Francisco Ballet for their season at Sadler's Wells

Special award - Alan Bennett for his outstanding contribution to British theatre

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