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Monday, 22 November, 1999, 16:52 GMT
Lion King's awards triumph
More awards success for Disney's hit show, The Lion King

Disney's hit stage show The Lion King got the ultimate consolation prize at a prestigious UK theatre awards ceremony after failing to win the Best Musical trophy.

The sold-out spectacular, which only opened in the West End last month, became the first winner of an entirely new category at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

Lion King director Julie Taymor flew in from the States to pick up the inaugural Theatrical Event of 1999 award from actress Joan Collins.

Barbara Dickson as pools millionaire Viv Nicholson
The Broadway production of the musical has already won 24 major trophies including six Tonys - including one for Taymor, who became the first woman to win the Best Director of a Musical award.

The cast of The Lion King - based on the hit 1994 Disney movie - uses dance steps to bring the animals to life, as well as Japanese puppetry techniques and Indonesian temple dancing.

The Best Musical award at the London Evening Standard awards, held at the Savoy Hotel, went to Spend, Spend, Spend at the Piccadilly Theatre.

The critically acclaimed show, which stars Barbara Dickson, is about Viv Nicholson, who announced that she would "spend, spend, spend" after winning the pools in 1961 - only to end up impoverished five husbands later.

Best Director: The Royal National Theatre's Trevor Nunn
Guests at the star-studded awards ceremomy included Vanessa Redgrave, Julia McKenzie, and Trainspotting star Jonny Lee Miller, all presenting awards.

Artistic director of the Royal National Theatre, Trevor Nunn, was named Best Director for his work on The Merchant Of Venice and Summerfolk.

However, for the first time in the history of the 44-year-old awards, there was no prize for Best Play because the judges felt there was no play worthy of winning from the past 12 months.

"We felt it would diminish the award to give it to a new work that did not live up to the extraordinary achievements of the past - and the future," said the chairman of the judges, Evening Standard editor Max Hastings.

Winner: Simon Callow wins prestigious award
Actor John Hurt, who presented the Best Actress prize, paid tribute to Quentin Crisp, who died on Sunday.

He said: ""This is a man to whom in many ways I owe my career and this is a man that benefited tremendously from the performance of the Naked Civil Servant in his own right."

"I would hate to have him looking down from wherever he is saying, 'Well only an Englishman would let his friends die and not even mention it'.

"Bless you, Quentin. You were one of the greatest philosophers that ever lived."

Actor Simon Callow - whose screen credits include Four Weddings And A Funeral and Room With A View - was one of the winners of the two-part Patricia Rothermere Award for his services to theatre.

The other half of the title, a drama school scholarship for a student who would otherwise have no funding, went to 19-year-old Martin Rea from Belfast.

Stephen Dillane was named Best Actor for The Real Thing at the Donmar Warehouse, while Janie Dee took the Best Actress award for Comic Potential at the Lyric Theatre.

Another new award - for Outstanding Newcomer - was given to Eve Best for her performance in 'Tis Pity She's A Whore at the Young Vic.

Rebecca Gilman won Most Promising Playwright for The Glory Of Living and the Best Stage Designer award went to Tim Hatley for Suddenly Last Summer, Sleep With Me and The Darker Face Of The Earth.

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See also:
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Disney's roaring success
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