Entertainment & Arts

Musicals lead Olivier Awards nominations

Beverley Knight in Memphis and Katie Brayben as Carole King in Beautiful Image copyright Various
Image caption Memphis with Beverley Knight (left) and Beautiful with Katie Brayben (right) lead the nominations

Memphis the Musical and Beautiful - The Carole King Musical will lead the pack at this year's Olivier Awards.

Memphis, starring Beverley Knight, has nine nominations, while Beautiful, with Katie Brayben as King, has eight.

Mark Strong and Richard Armitage are up for best actor for their roles in Arthur Miller plays A View from the Bridge and The Crucible respectively.

Strong said he was "thrilled" to be nominated "in a year of such extraordinary performances".

The Oliviers take place at the Royal Opera House in London on 12 April.

The nominations were announced at an event in London on Monday by James McAvoy and Lesley Manville.

McAvoy said he was "dead excited" to be nominated for best actor for his role in Peter Barnes' 1968 play The Ruling Class at Trafalgar Studios, and "also relieved".

"Reading out a list of names in a year I was under consideration would have been a bit embarrassing if I wasn't on it," he told the BBC.

Elsewhere in the acting categories, Dame Angela Lansbury is up for best supporting actress for her role in Blithe Spirit.

Gemma Arterton, meanwhile, is up for best actress in a musical for her first on-stage singing role in Made in Dagenham.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Made in Dagenham's Gemma Arterton is up for best actress in a musical

The show is to close at the Adelphi theatre on 11 April after a West End run of six months.

Made in Dagenham failed to make the best new musical category, which sees Memphis and Beautiful face competition from the Kinks-inspired Sunny Afternoon and Here Lies Love.

Based on the life of Imelda Marcos, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's musical transformed the National Theatre's Dorfman stage into a nightclub.

Here Lies Love is the only National Theatre show to make a dent at this year's Oliviers, having also been nominated for best choreography and for outstanding achievement in music.

Theatre industry expert Terri Paddock said it was a "very strong" year for new musicals.

"I'm sure Made in Dagenham and Urinetown will feel a bit snubbed," she told the BBC.

"There have been so many new musicals in London in this past year, it's difficult to fit them all into the shortlist where they rightly belong."

'Risky undertaking'

New works focusing on different aspects of British royalty - King Charles III and the Royal Shakespeare Company's adaptations of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies - are among those shortlisted for best new play.

The list in completed by 'dark net' thriller The Nether and Taken at Midnight, which stars best actress nominee Penelope Wilton as the mother of a young German lawyer imprisoned by the Nazis.

All of the works up for the new play award originated in subsidised theatres before transferring to the West End.

"Producing a new play is a risky undertaking," said Paddock. "So very often commercial producers will take their new plays to those new venues to nurture them and then hopefully take them on."

Image copyright Keith Pattison
Image caption Wolf Hall starred Ben Miles (left) and Nathaniel Parker as Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII

King Charles III, Mike Bartlett's blank verse vision of a future monarchy, has six nominations in total, including actor and director nods for Tim Pigott-Smith and Rupert Goold.

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the RSC's theatrical versions of Hilary Mantel's historical novels, have five nominations, having been considered by organisers to be a single entity.

Joining Wilton on the best actress shortlist are Gillian Anderson for A Streetcar Named Desire, Dame Kristin Scott Thomas for Electra, and Imelda Staunton for Good People.

London's Young Vic theatre has a total of 11 nominations - the most for a single venue - for its productions of A View from the Bridge, The Scottsboro Boys, Bull and A Streetcar Named Desire.

The theatre's executive director, Lucy Woollatt, said: "It's only because of the Arts Council and our donors that we can take these risks."

The best director field includes the Donmar Warehouse's artistic director Josie Rourke for City of Angels.

"It's a big deal for me to be nominated because it's my first musical," she told the BBC. "That's probably the best validation I could get."

Public vote

The nominees for the best musical revival award are Cats, City of Angels, Miss Saigon and the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.

Image copyright Alessandro Pinna
Image caption Nicole Scherzinger played Grizabella in Cats at the London Palladium

Former Cats star Nicole Scherzinger earns a nod for best supporting actress in a musical for her first major theatrical role, while Jon Jon Briones is among the best actor in a musical nominees for his role as The Engineer in Miss Saigon.

Briones said he felt "numb" that "this kid from the slums of Quezon City in the Philippines" had been nominated for an Olivier.

The Play That Goes Wrong, Handbagged and Shakespeare in Love are the three productions vying for best new comedy.

The shortlist for the This Morning audience award, the only category voted for by the public, features Billy Elliot, Matilda, Jersey Boys and Wicked.

Voting closes on 10 April at 1700 BST.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Kevin Spacey will receive a special award for his work at the Old Vic

In the dance categories, Sadler's Wells and the Barbican receive four and two nominations each.

The best new opera nominees include the English National Opera's Benvenuto Cellini, directed by Monty Python's Terry Gilliam.

As previously announced, Kevin Spacey will be presented with a special award for his outstanding contribution to the Old Vic.

The Oscar-winning actor became the theatre's artistic director in 2004 and steps down later this year.

The Olivier awards ceremony on 12 April will be followed by a highlights programme on ITV later that evening.

The full list of nominations is on the Oliviers website.

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