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Mendes first triple winner at Olivier awards

London, Feb. 14 (Reuters) - Director Sam Mendes made theatre history today when he became the first triple winner at Britain’s prestigious Laurence Olivier awards ceremony.

Mendes, who went on to Oscar glory in Hollywood with American Beauty, was given a special achievement award for his 10-year-tenure of London’s tiny Donmar Warehouse Theatre where Nicole Kidman was such a sensation in The Blue Room.

Mendes also won the best director and best revival awards for his productions of Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya which he has now taken to Broadway.

Mendes had to thank the great and the good of British theatre with a video link to a London theatre from New York where his girlfriend, actress Kate Winslet, was reduced to tears by his acceptance speech.

As she dabbed her eyes, Mendes said: “I want to say thank you to my partner Kate because these two plays are about love and it helps when you direct them to have some personal experience of it.”

It was the first time that anyone had won three awards in the same year since the awards began in 1976 and the acclaim from his peers triumphantly brought down the final curtain on Mendes’ ground-breaking career at the tiny backstreet theatre.

Gwyneth Paltrow, herself an Oscar winner for Shakespeare in Love, was strongly fancied to land the best actress award for her role in Proof, another box office success at Mendes’ theatre.

But she was pipped to the prize by Claire Higgins for her role in Vincent in Brixton which is now opening in New York.

Paltrow swept into the theatre for the awards at the last moment and left by a back door to avoid questions from reporters about her relationship with Coldplay singer Chris Martin.

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