National's night of triumph: West End productions lose out as subsidised theatre dominates Olivier awards

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SUBSIDISED theatre has rarely looked healthier than last night when it scooped 19 Laurence Olivier awards. The awards are presented by the Society Of West End Theatre; but the West End played second fiddle at the Dominion as the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, and Royal Opera House took award after award.

The Almeida in north London won a special award for 'giving glamour a good name on the fringe'. But it was the National Theatre that really triumphed. Its revival of Carousel won four awards, as did the reworking of An Inspector Calls and the new comedy, The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice.

For the RSC, Robert Stephens won the best actor award, for his Falstaff in Henry IV parts one and two. Julian Glover won best supporting actor for the same plays.

The award for lifetime achievement went to the late Royal Ballet choreographer, Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Best actress was Alison Steadman for The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice. The show also won best comedy.

Best play was John Guare's Six Degrees Of Separation at the Royal Court; best musical revival Carousel, best revival An Inspector Calls. The West End received some consolation with Gershwin's Crazy For You winning best musical, Henry Goodman best actor in a musical for Assassins, and Simon Cadell best comedy performance for Travels With My Aunt.

Best actress in a musical was Joanna Riding in Carousel, best actress in a supporting role Barbara Leigh-Hunt in An Inspector Calls, and best supporting performance in a musical Janie Dee, again for Carousel. The two shows featured again in the director awards with Stephen Daldry and Nicolas Hytner taking best play and best musical direction respectively. Ian MacNeil was best set designer for An Inspector Calls.

The ROH's British professional premiere of Verdi's Stiffelio was best opera production. And Sir Edward Downes won the award for outstanding achievement in opera for conducting the work.

The Royal Ballet's production of Sir Kenneth MacMillan's The Judas Tree was best new dance production; and Siobhan Davies won the outstanding achievement in dance award for choreographing Rambert Dance Company's Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues.

The best choreographer award for a musical went to Susan Stroman for Crazy For You; best lighting designer to Howell Binkley for Spider Woman; and best costume designer to William Dudley for Pygmalion, The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice and Heartbreak House.

Accepting his award, Stephen Daldry, artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre, said his production of An Inspector Called could not have been put on next year because of cuts to Arts Council grants. He said theatre subsidised government by giving more in VAT receipts than it got in subsidy.

(Photograph omitted)