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Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 17:07 GMT
Hit shows in awards duel

The Lion King has been a roaring success

Broadway spectacular The Lion King and the British musical Spend Spend Spend dominate the nominations for this year's top British stage honours The Laurence Olivier Awards.

Both shows have eight nominations each in the annual awards, which acknowledge excellence on the London stage.

Spend Spend Spend won an award soon after it opened
The ceremony will take place on 18 February at London's Lyceum Theatre. It will see both shows pitted head-to-head in several categories, including Best New Musical, Best Director and Best Choreographer.

The Lion King, based on the animated Disney movie, mixes art forms from around the world. It has been one of the hottest tickets in the capital since it opened in October.

Spend Spend Spend is based on the true rags-to-riches-to-rags story of 1960s pools winner Viv Nicholson. It too opened in October and a month later it won the title Best New Musical at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

Star of the show is singer/songwriter Barbara Dickson who finds herself nominated for the award of Best Actress in a Musical along with her co-star Rachel Leskovac, who portrays the young Viv.

Dame Maggie Smith is nominated for her role as a bag lady
Dual Oscar-winner Dame Maggie Smith has been nominated for her role in Alan Bennett's comedy The Lady in the Van.

She'll be battling it out against Alison Steadman and Jennifer Ehle for their performances in, respectively, The Memory of Water and The Real Thing.

The Real Thing also sees its male lead Stephen Dillane nominated for Best Actor. He will be in competition with Antony Sher for his part in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of The Winter's Tale at the Barbican.

Another Shakespeare play features in this category with Henry Goodman named for his role in The Merchant of Venice at the Royal National Theatre (RNT).

Overall, the state subsidised RNT has received 21 nominations. Three of the five nominations in the Best Actor section were RNT productions. Six more nominations have gone to its staging of Candide.

Al Murray goes from strength to strength
Other star names to watch out for in The Laurence Olivier Awards 2000 include Michael Williams, husband of actress Dame Judi Dench. He has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Forest, despite suffering from cancer.

Comedian Al Murray is a hot contender for taking the Best Entertainment category for his Perrier Award-winning show The Pub Landlord.

Clive Anderson will host the awards, to be screened on BBC Two on 20 February.

The nominations in full:

Best Actress
Janie Dee (for Comic Potential, Lyric); Jennifer Ehle (The Real Thing, Donmar Warehouse and Albery); Dame Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van, Queen's); Alison Steadman (The Memory of Water, Vaudeville).

Best Actor
Roger Allam (for Summerfolk, RNT Olivier); Stephen Dillane (The Real Thing, Donmar Warehouse and Albery); Henry Goodman (The Merchant of Venice, RNT Cottesloe and RNT Olivier); Michael Sheen (Look Back in Anger, RNT Lyttelton); Antony Sher (The Winter's Tale, RSC at the Barbican).

Best Supporting Actor
Roger Allam (Money, RNT Olivier); Michael Bryant (Summerfolk, RNT Olivier); Ron Cook (Juno and the Paycock, Donmar Warehouse); Michael Williams (The Forest, RNT Lyttelton)

Best Supporting Actress
Anne-Marie Duff (Collected Stories, Theatre Royal, Haymarket); Patricia Hodge (Money, RNT Olivier); Estelle Kohler (The Winter's Tale, RSC at the Barbican); Kika Markham (Song At Twilight, Gielgud)

Radisson Edwardian Award For Best New Musical
Honk! The Ugly Duckling (RNT Olivier); Mamma Mia! (Prince Edward); Spend Spend Spend (Piccadilly); The Lion King (Lyceum)

Outstanding Musical Production
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (Open Air); Candide (RNT Olivier); Dick Whittington (Sadler's Wells); The Pajama Game (Victoria Palace)

BBC Award For Best New Play
Goodnight Children Everywhere, by Richard Nelson (RSC at The Pit); Perfect Days, by Liz Lochhead (Vaudeville); Rose, by Martin Sherman (RNT Cottesloe); The Lady in the Van, by Alan Bennett (Queen's); Three Days of Rain, by Richard Greenberg (Donmar Warehouse)

Best New Comedy
Comic Potential, by Alan Ayckbourn (Lyric); Quartet, by Ronald Harwood (Albery); The Memory of Water, by Shelagh Stephenson (Vaudeville)

Best Entertainment
Al Murray - The Pub Landlord (New Ambassadors); Defending The Caveman (Apollo); Fascinating Aida - Barefaced Chic (Theatre Royal, Haymarket); Soul Train (Victoria Palace)

Best Actor in a Musical
Rob Edwards (The Lion King, Lyceum), Daniel Evans (Candide, RNT Olivier); Ben Keaton (Animal Crackers, Lyric); Gus MacGregor (Buddy, the Strand); Simon Russell Beale (Candide, RNT Olivier)

Best Actress in a Musical
Josette Bushell-Mingo (The Lion King, Lyceum); Barbara Dickson (Spend Spend Spend, Piccadilly); Rachel Leskovac (Spend Spend Spend, Piccadilly); Siobhan McCarthy (Mamma Mia!, Prince Edward)

Best Supporting Performance in a Musical
Joseph Alessi (Animal Crackers, Lyric); Jenny Galloway (Mamma Mia!, Prince Edward); Steven Houghton (Spend Spend Spend, Piccadilly); Louise Plowright (Mamma Mia!, Prince Edward); Denis Quilley (Candide, RNT Olivier).

Best Director
David Leveaux (The Real Thing, Donmar Warehouse and Albery); Trevor Nunn (Summerfolk, RNT Olivier; The Merchant of Venice, RNT Cottesloe; Troilus and Cressida, RNT Olivier); Jeremy Sams (Spend Spend Spend, Piccadilly); Julie Taymor (The Lion King, Lyceum)

Best Theatre Choreographer
Peter Darling (Candide, RNT Olivier); Garth Fagan (The Lion King, Lyceum); Craig Revel Horwood (Spend Spend Spend, Piccadilly); Stephen Mear (Soul Train, Victoria Palace)

Best Set Designer
Lez Brotherston (Spend Spend Spend, Piccadilly), Maria Bjornson (Plenty, Almeida at the Albery); Rob Howell (Richard III, RSC at the Savoy; Troilus and Cressida, RNT Olivier; Vassa, Almeida at the Albery); Richard Hudson (The Lion King, Lyceum)

Best Lighting Designer
Howard Harrison (Private Lives, RNT Lyttelton; Sleep with Me, RNT Cottesloe; The Tempest, RSC at the Barbican); Mark Henderson (Plenty, Almeida at the Albery; Spend Spend Spend, Piccadilly; Suddenly Last Summer, the Comedy; The Forest, RNT Lyttelton; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, RSC at the Barbican; The Real Thing, Donmar Warehouse; Vassa, Almeida at the Albery); Donald Holder (The Lion King, Lyceum); Peter Mumford (Collected Stories, Theatre Royal, Haymarket; Richard III, RSC at the Savoy; Summerfolk and The Merchant of Venice, RNT Cottesloe)

Best Costume Designer
Rob Howell (Money, and Troilus and Cressida, RNT Olivier); Robert Jones (The Winter's Tale, RSC at the Barbican); John Napier with Elise Napier (Candide, RNT Olivier); Julie Taymor (The Lion King, Lyceum)

Best New Opera Production
English National Opera's Alcina (London Coliseum); Welsh National Opera's Hansel and Gretel (Sadler's Wells); English National Opera's Parsifal (London Coliseum); English National Opera's Semele, (London Coliseum)

Outstanding Achievement In Opera
Kim Begley (English National Opera's Parsifal, London Coliseum); English National Opera (for high standard of production, particularly championing works of Handel); Rosemary Joshua (English National Opera's Semele, London Coliseum); Bryn Terfel (Royal Opera's Falstaff, Royal Opera House)

Best New Dance Production
San Francisco Ballet's Sandpaper Ballet (Sadler's Wells); Nederlands Dans Theater 1's Symphony Of Psalms (Sadler's Wells); San Francisco Ballet's The Cage (Sadler's Wells); Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal's Viktor (Sadler's Wells)

Outstanding Achievement in Dance
Nina Ananiashvili (The Bolshoi Ballet's Don Quixote, London Coliseum); Pina Bausch and her Company (Viktor, Sadler's Wells); David Bintley and his creative team (Birmingham Royal Ballet's Edward II, Sadler's Wells); Jiri Kylian (Nederlands Dans Theater 1's season, Sadler's Wells)

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