`Mary Poppins' and `The Producers' lead Olivier Award nominations

Thursday, January 20th 2005, 1:36 pm
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ ``Mary Poppins'' and ``The Producers'' lead the nominations for this year's Laurence Olivier Awards, honoring achievement in London theater, opera and dance during 2004.

``Mary Poppins'' had nine nominations including best new musical, best actress in a musical for the show's star Laura Michelle Kelly and best actor in a musical for Gavin Lee, who plays Bert the chimney sweep in Cameron Mackintosh's big-budget production.

The Mel Brooks musical ``The Producers,'' which was a smash-hit on Broadway and won a record 12 Tony Awards, received eight nominations at Thursday's announcement. Co-stars Lee Evans and Nathan Lane _ who is no longer in the show _ are up for the actor in a musical prize. Leigh Zimmerman, who plays Swedish secretary Ulla, is a nominee in the musical actress category.

``Mary Poppins'' and ``The Producers'' opened late last year in London and have proved huge hits with critics and audiences.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest West End production ``The Woman in White,'' which has been less well received, had five Olivier nominations. They include new musical and supporting performance in a musical for Michael Crawford, who also starred in the original production of Webber's ``Phantom of the Opera.''

The nominees for new play were Alan Bennett's ``The History Boys,'' which has been a hit for Britain's National Theatre; Edward Albee's ``The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?''; ``Festen''; and ``By the Bog of Cats,'' starring Holly Hunter.

The actor category includes a nomination for newcomer Ben Whishaw, who won rave reviews for his lead role performance in ``Hamlet'' at the Old Vic. He is up against veterans Michael Gambon for ``Endgame''; Richard Griffiths for ``The History Boys''; and Jonathan Pryce for ``The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?''

Best actress will go to Victoria Hamilton for ``Suddenly Last Summer''; Clare Higgins for ``Hecuba''; Anna Maxwell Martin for ``His Dark Materials''; or Caroline O'Connor for ``Bombshells.''

Judi Dench received her 13th Olivier nomination for her supporting role as the Countess of Rossillion in ``All's Well That Ends Well.'' She competes with Samuel Barnett, ``The History Boys''; Amanda Harris, ``Othello''; and Eddie Redmayne, ``The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?''

The 29th Olivier Awards ceremony will be held on Feb. 20.