Olivier Award Nominees Announced

Jessica Lange, the two-time Oscar-winning film star, received her first Olivier nomination Thursday, while two little-known Irishmen, bound for Broadway in the same play, are both up for best actor.

Winners of the 25th annual Laurence Olivier Awards _ London's nearest equivalent to Broadway's Tony _ will be announced Feb. 23.

Lange's performance as the morphine-addicted matriarch in "Long Day's Journey Into Night" _ at the Lyric Theater until March 3 _ leads a strong lineup for best actress that includes Helen Mirren ("Orpheus Descending"), Julia Ormond ("My Zinc Bed"), Julie Walters ("All My Sons"), and Harriet Walter ("Life x 3").

Conleth Hill and Sean Campion _ the entire cast of "Stones in His Pockets" _ are competing for best actor against two-time Olivier winner Simon Russell Beale, for "Hamlet," as well as Bill Nighy ("Blue/Orange") and Michael Gambon ("The Caretaker").

Hill and Campion, currently appearing at Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre in "Stones," move to Broadway's Golden Theatre later this season.

"Stones In His Pockets" was nominated for best comedy, where it faces fierce competition from, among other shows, Alan Ayckbourn's notable pairing of plays, "House" and "Garden."

The best musical quartet of nominees finds Andrew Lloyd Webber, Britain's most successful composer, competing against renowned impresario Cameron Mackintosh, who produced Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Cats."

Lloyd Webber's latest show, "The Beautiful Game," is up against Mackintosh's "The Witches of Eastwick." Completing that category are the West End transfer of the Broadway dance revue "Fosse," which closed in London Jan. 13, and the professional London premiere of the 1981 Stephen Sondheim musical, "Merrily We Roll Along." The Sondheim show, at the Donmar Warehouse through March 3, was named in three further categories, including best choreography (Peter Darling, currently represented on screen by the dances for "Billy Elliot") as well as musical actor (Daniel Evans) and actress (Samantha Spiro).

Competing for best play are fresh efforts from Yasmina Reza ("Life x 3") and David Hare ("My Zinc Bed"), alongside Frank McGuinness' World War II drama, "Dolly West's Kitchen," and Joe Penhall's National Theatre sellout, "Blue/Orange."

Garnering the most nominations was another National sellout _ director Howard Davies' acclaimed revival of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons." The production is up for six prizes, while the National claimed 22 nominations in the 16 theater categories.

Unlike New York's Tony Awards, the Olivier ceremony also honors the preceding year in opera and dance.

Overlooked for nominations were such American visitors to the West End as Kathleen Turner ("The Graduate"), Kathleen Chalfant ("Wit"), W.H. Macy ("American Buffalo"), Daryl Hannah ("The Seven Year Itch"), and Macaulay Culkin ("Madame Melville").

Similarly bypassed was Lucie Arnaz, in her London stage debut as the sex-starved sculptress in "The Witches of Eastwick," while co-star Joanna Riding _ a previous Olivier-winner in this category in 1993 _ was nominated for best musical actress.