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.


Best Actress:
    Zoë Wanamaker for Electra at the Donmar Warehouse
Features
photograph by Ivan Kyncl
Best Actor:
    Ian Holm for King Lear at the RNT's Cottesloe
Features
photograph by John Haynes
BBC Award for Best New Play:
    Closer by Patrick Marber at the RNT and soon to be at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue
Features
photograph by Hugo Glendinning
BEST NEW COMEDY:
BEST ENTERTAINMENT:
    Slava's Snowshow created by Slava Polunin at The Old Vic
Features
photograph by Ivan Kyncl
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
Features
photograph by Michael Le Poer Trench
OUTSTANDING MUSICAL PRODUCTION:
    Chicago, lyrics by Fred Ebb, music by John Kander, book by Ebb and Bob Fosse at the Adelphi

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
    Sarah Woodward for Tom and Clem at the Aldwych
Features
John Haynes
BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL: Features
Catherine Ashmore
BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:
    Philip Quast for The Fix
Features
Mark Dover
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL:
    James Dreyfus for Lady in the Dark at the RNT's Lyttelton
Features
Catherine Ashmore
BEST DIRECTOR: Richard Eyre for King Lear at the RNT
BEST THEATRE CHOREOGRAPHER: Simon McBurney for The Caucasion Chalk Circle at the RNT's Olivier in collaboration with Theatre de Complicite
BEST COSTUME DESIGNER: Tim Goodchild for Three Hours After Marriage at the RSC's Pit
BEST LIGHTING DESIGNER: Rich Fisher for Chips with Everything and Lady in the Dark at the RNT
BEST SET DESIGNER: Tim Goodchild for Three Hours After Marriage at the RSC's Pit
BEST NEW OPERA PRODUCTION: The Royal Opera's Paul Bunyan at the Shaftesbury
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA: Paul Daniel for conducting English National Opera's From the House of the Dead at the London Coliseum and for his contribution to ENO
BEST NEW DANCE PRODUCTION: L'Allegro, Il Penseroso Ed Il Moderato performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group, ENO is association with Dance Umbrella at the London Coliseum
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE: Lez Brotherston for the set and costume design for Adventures in Motion Pictures' Cinderella at the Piccadilly