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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 14:37 GMT
Fair Lady triumphs at Olivier awards
Martine McCutcheon has a nomination for My Fair Lady
McCutcheon: Won best actress in a musical
My Fair Lady star Martine McCutcheon has emerged victorious from UK theatre's prestigious Laurence Olivier awards after being named best actress in a musical.

The former EastEnders actress's show won three awards - the most taken by any production at Friday's ceremony at London's Victoria Palace Theatre.

The show also won the award for outstanding musical production and Michael Bourne was named best choreographer.

Trevor Nunn - the artistic director of the Royal National Theatre where My Fair Lady first opened - won the award for outstanding achievement.

Marin Mazzie is up for best actress for Kiss Me, Kate
Marin Mazzie show Kiss Me Kate was overlooked

But there was disappointment for My Fair Lady's main contender for the awards, Kiss Me Kate, which came away with nothing despite nine nominations.

McCutcheon said she was amazed but very happy to win the Olivier award.

"I'm so shocked. I don't know what to say - I hadn't prepared anything. I just made a point to myself that I didn't have a hope in hell of getting it," she said at the ceremony.

"When I did play that part it meant the world to me and it changed my life. It was the happiest night of my life when it opened at Drury Lane."

My Fair Lady became an instant hit when it opened last year at the Royal National Theatre on London's South Bank.

Former soap star McCutcheon won over the sceptics in the press and theatreland when she won rave reviews for her performance as Eliza Doolittle.

However, she became ill and, following protracted absences, left the show not long after it transferred to London's West End.

New audience

Trevor Nunn, also at the awards, defended his decision to stage a popular musical at the National Theatre.

At the time, Nunn's move drew criticism from members of the theatre community.

"It becomes a way of broadening, widening the audience for the National," he said.

Lindsay Duncan is named twice in the same category
Lindsay Duncan won best actress for Private Lives

"This wonderful masterpiece My Fair Lady - that astonishing score, those brilliant lyrics, that very demanding book - has brought an audience.

"Thirty-four per cent (of the audience) had never been to the National before. And many of them have been back since."

McCutcheon's co-star Jonathan Pryce, who played Professor Higgins, lost out on the best actor in a musical award to Philip Quast for South Pacific.

Lindsay Duncan was named best actress for her role in Noel Coward's Private Lives. Best actor went to Roger Allam for Privates On Parade.

Popular

The Play What I Wrote - directed by Kenneth Branagh and a tribute to comedy duo Morecambe And Wise - won two awards.

Sean Foley and Hamish McColl in The Play What I Wrote
The Play What I Wrote has received rave reviews

These were for best new comedy and best supporting actor for Toby Jones.

A new prize for most popular show, voted by the audience, went to musical The Phantom Of The Opera.

The awards ceremony was hosted by Clive Anderson.

It will be broadcast at 1900 GMT on BBC Two on Saturday.


In DepthIN DEPTH
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