LONDON — Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys” and Mel Brooks’ tuner “The Producers” continued their clean sweep of London’s legit award circuit, winning the 2005 Olivier Awards for play and musical, respectively, at Sunday night’s ceremony.
They previously took home the top prizes at the Evening Standard Theater Awards and the London Critics’ Circle prizes.
Nathan Lane won his first Olivier for “The Producers,” despite having left it several weeks early because of medical ailments.
“Thank you, you crazy British people, you,” Lane said before exalting co-star and fellow nominee Lee Evans as “the sweetest man in Christendom.”
The Disney-Cameron Mackintosh co-production “Mary Poppins” won for Laura Michelle Kelly’s lead perf in the title role and for Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear’s choreography.
Bennett was the evening’s big winner, taking both the play prize for “History Boys” and a special award for the actor-playwright’s entire career. “History Boys” is expected on Broadway early in 2006.
“History Boys” also won for Nicholas Hytner’s direction and for Richard Griffiths’ star turn, his third win for the perf.
“I’m very sorry for my fellow nominees because it’s just bloody irritating,” joked Griffiths, who trumped the likes of Michael Gambon (“Endgame”) and newcomer Ben Whishaw (“Hamlet”).
Actress prize went to two-time Olivier winner Clare Higgins for her title perf in the Donmar Warehouse production of “Hecuba.”
The Donmar’s revival of the Broadway musical “Grand Hotel” took musical production kudos, besting the Broadway-bound chamber production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd.”
New Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “The Woman in White” won a single award, for Mick Potter’s sound design.
“Woman’s” director, Trevor Nunn, accept the revival prize for his Old Vic “Hamlet,” which turned a profit last spring. No less surprising: the supporting perf in a musical award for Conleth Hill, from “The Producers,” who beat both Michael Crawford and David Haig.
Prize for achievement or performance in an affiliate theater, i.e., one of the fringe theaters that make up the constituency of the Society of London Theater, went to Andrew Scott for his work in “A Girl in a Car With a Man” at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theater Upstairs.
The San Francisco Ballet was cited for overall achievement in dance, while the Rambert Dance Company’s “Swamp” took new dance production at the Oliviers, which honor opera and dance as well as theater.
Actor-director Richard Wilson emceed the event, which for the second consecutive year was not aired on any U.K. TV channel. Channel 4 is expected to step up in 2006 to broadcast the ceremony, which in years past has been shown over various BBC networks to negligible audiences.