22nd annual awards cast wide net

LONDON — The London production of the Broadway musical revival of “Chicago” was up for seven awards while the state-subsidized Royal National Theater continued its traditional domination of the categories with 21 citations when nominations were announced late last week for the 1998 Laurence Olivier Awards.

Now in their 22nd year, the awards honoring achievement in theater, opera and dance rounded up 78 nominees in 20 categories for 1997. The nominees are selected by a panel of industry experts and members of the public. The winners will be announced in a lunchtime ceremony Feb. 16 at the Albery Theater, current home to the unnominated “Stepping Out, the Musical,” though some recipients will get their trophies at what a press release described as “unexpected locations — in rehearsal, on stage, or even at home.” (That could be a real surprise, depending on where at home the person is at the time of his or her victory …)

Unlike Broadway’s Tony Awards, the Oliviers have shown limited commercial clout over the years, and tend not to be a major factor in advertising campaigns. In addition, several of the likeliest winners have long since finished their runs, including Ian Holm in “King Lear” and all four of the nominees for supporting performance in a musical (this year a pretty paltry lot).

Among the more interesting races is actress in a play, which pits against one another two of Britain’s thespian dames — Judi Dench and Maggie Smith — while ignoring Smith’s “A Delicate Balance” co-star Eileen Atkins, who in November won the Evening Standard Drama Award for actress for her performance in, arguably, the more difficult of the play’s two leading female roles.

Overlooked entirely was Terrence McNally’s Tony-winning “Master Class,” and its London star, Patti LuPone, a previous Olivier Award winner who couldn’t turn a Broadway smash into a London one. One of the most-discussed playwrights of the year, London-based Irishman Martin McDonagh, received a single nomination, for comedy, for “A Skull in Connemara”; his New York-bound “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” and its acclaimed director Nicholas Hytner, were bypassed.

Unlike the Tony nominators, the Olivier panel no longer distinguishes between director of a play and of a musical. As a result, Walter Bobbie, the Tony-winning stager of “Chicago,” is up against three Britons cited for Shakespeare tragedies. Following is a partial list of nominees for the 1998 Laurence Olivier Awards:

PLAY

“Amy’s View,” by David Hare; “Closer,” by Patrick Marber; “Hurlyburly,” by David Rabe; “The Invention of Love,” by Tom Stoppard; “Tom and Clem,” by Stephen Churchett.

COMEDY

“East Is East,” by Ayub Khan-Din; “Popcorn,” by Ben Elton; “A Skull in Connemara,” by Martin McDonagh.

NEW MUSICAL

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” “Enter the Guardsman,” “The Fix,” “Lady in the Dark.”

MUSICAL PRODUCTION

“Chicago,” “Damn Yankees,” “Kiss Me Kate.”

ENTERTAINMENT

“Maureen Lipman Live and Kidding,” “Marlene,” “She Knows You Know!,” “Slava’s Snowshow.”

ACTOR IN A PLAY

Michael Gambon, “Tom and Clem”; Rupert Graves, “Hurlyburly”; Ian Holm, “King Lear”; Simon Russell Beale, “Othello”; John Wood, “The In-vention of Love.”

ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Judi Dench, “Amy’s View”; Sally Dexter, “Closer”; Maggie Smith, “A Delicate Balance”; Zoe Wanamaker, “Electra.”

ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

John Barrowman, “The Fix”; Henry Goodman, “Chicago”; Philip Quast, “The Fix”; Andrew C. Wadsworth, “Kiss Me Kate.”

ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Maria Friedman, “Lady in the Dark”; Ruthie Henshall, “Chicago”; Ute Lemper, “Chicago”; Sian Phillips, “Marlene.”

SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A PLAY

Michael Bryant, “King Lear”; Ronald Pickup, “Amy’s View”; Paul Rhys, “King Lear”; Sarah Woodward, “Tom and Clem.”

SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL

James Dreyfus, “Lady in the Dark”; Nicky Henson, “Enter the Guardsman”; April Nixon, “Damn Yankees”; Issy van Randwyck, “Kiss Me Kate.”

DIRECTOR

Walter Bobbie, “Chicago”; Richard Eyre, “King Lear”; Sam Mendes, “Othello”; Matthew Warchus, “Hamlet.”

CHOREOGRAPHY

Simon McBurney, “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”; Rob Marshall, “Damn Yankees”; Ann Reinking, “Chicago”; Matt West, “Beauty and the Beast.”

COSTUMES

Nicky Gillibrand, “Lady in the Dark”; Tim Goodchild, “Three Hours After Marriage”; Ann Hould-Ward, “Beauty and the Beast”; William Ivey Long, “Chicago.”

SETS

William Dudley, “The Homecoming”; Tim Goodchild, “Three Hours After Marriage”; John Gunter, the Peter Hall Company’s Old Vic season; Rob Howell, “Chips With Everything.”

LIGHTING

Paul Anderson, “The Chairs”; Rick Fisher, “Chips With Everything” and “Lady in the Dark”; Howard Harrison, “The Fix”; Hugh Vanstone, “Hamlet.”

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