What an eventful seven days! Kicking off the activity was the Laurence Olivier Awards, this year held at the Hilton Hotel in a closed ceremony usually staged at a West End venue. With TV cameras turned away, the British theatre industry let their hair go; Kevin Spacey serenaded Judi Dench (awarded a lifetime achievement award), 2 usherettes sang Mack the Knife and Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry urged the guests to complain like mad to the controller of BBC2 (who usually televise the event).
And still time for awards?? Jerry Springer the Opera led the night with 4 gongs; best musical, best actor in a musical, best sound and best supporting role (which was taken by the entire of the Jerry ensemble, who act as an onstage audience). Diverse actress Maria Friedman, see more news below, took home her third Olivier for Ragtime at the Piccadilly whilst Tony smash Thoroughly Modern Millie failed to pick up anything despite being nominated for four awards.
Out of the musicals, Eileen Atkins won Best Actress for her role in Honour at The National Theatre and British celebrity Matthew Kelly surprised even himself by being awarded Best Actor for his turn as Lennie in Of Mice and Men. Kelly, popular host of long-running British gameshow Stars in their Eyes (where the public impersonate famous singers), was arrested in January 2003 over child abuse allegations, which were later dropped.
In an unexpected casting coop, Andrew Lloyd Webber announced this week that the star billing of his musical The Woman in White (to go in competition with The Producers and Mary Poppins) will be none other than musical legend Michael Crawford. The Phantom of the Opera star, who famously flopped in Dance of the Vampires, was expected to return to the London stage in 2000 - as Darryl in the Witches of Eastwick - but this fell through, and he will now return (for the first time since 1986) in September (previews from August). His co-stars include Maria Friedman and, though not confirmed, Anne Hathaway.