Laurence Olivier Awards: 1998 WinnersDate: 24 February 1998
Winners of the 22nd annual Laurence Olivier Awards were announced 16 February 1998. Eighteen of the 20 awards were presented in a lunchtime ceremony presented by Clive Anderson and held at the Albery Theatre. The remaining two awards - for Best New Comedy and Outstanding Musical Production - were withheld until the television broadcast on Monday, 23 February. Winners of these awards were tracked down for surprise presentations later in the week. But those weren't the only surprises.
Ute Lemper and Ruthie Henshall, the two main stars of Chicago, which scooped Outstanding Musical Production, were both vying for Best Actress in a Musical Award, but Lemper walked away with the trophy. In her acceptance speech, she honoured her co-star saying that, in her heart, they shared the award: 'It really does take two to tango,' said Lemper. 'Thank you, Ruthie.'
The Royal National Theatre swept up again with six awards. Richard Eyre and Ian Holm have achieved a veritable Grand Slam of theatrical awards for their partnership in King Lear. The production has won Eyre Best Director and Holm Best Actor in the Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics Circle Awards this year.
The RNT also won Best New Play for Patrick Marber's Closer . When accepting his award, Marber confessed that he was 'embarrassed' for winning out over his idols who were in competition against him. 'David Hare (Amy's View) and Tom Stoppard (The Invention of Love ) were two of the reasons I became a writer,' he said. 'They've been a constant source of inspiration.'
Zoe Wanamaker won Best Actress for Electra at the Donmar Warehouse, beating out stiff competition from the two West End Dames - Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. The Donmar also scored with its mixed-reception production of The Fix which won Philip Quast Best Actor in a Musical.
And, in a surprise announcement, Culture secretary Chris Smith was on hand to present two Special Awards to Canadian father-son business duo Ed and David Mirvish for their 15-year ownership and restoration of the Old Vic Theatre. Smith took the opportunity to state publicly his ongoing private plea to the Mirvishes for the future of the Old Vic which is now up for sale. 'Please don't rush into a disposal of the Old Vic,' Smith said to David who watched from the audience, 'instead give all the rest of us a chance to come in with suitable, high quality proposals.'
The ceremony - including the remaining two awards - was screened in the UK on BBC2 television on 23 February 1998 at 9pm.
The full list of award winners is as follows. For a complete run-down of all 1998 nominations, see our Olivier Nominations feature.